Nazril Irham- From stardom to jail

Nazril Irham- From stardom to jail

One of Indonesia’s biggest pop stars was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Monday over a series of online celebrity sex tapes.

Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso said Mr. Irham, the lead singer of the band Peterpan, had violated Indonesia’s controversial antipornography law, which was passed in 2008 amid pressure from Muslim conservatives and vociferous protest from liberals and religious minorities. The sentence, which also included a fine of about $28,000, was less than the five years demanded by prosecutors and the maximum 12 years available under the law.

The court found that Mr. Irham broke the law by “giving the opportunity” for others to copy and distribute his videos when he handed over a hard drive to a music editor for Peterpan in 2006.

The case of Mr. Irham has riveted Indonesia since two videos surfaced online last year showing him having sex with his girlfriend, the actress Luna Maya, and the television presenter Cut Tari.

The popularity of the videos prompted the government to impose an online filter for Internet pornography — which has so far met with limited success — and to pursue Mr. Irham as the first high-profile target of the new pornography law. Throughout, there has been a fierce debate between liberals and conservatives over the role of the newly democratic state in prying into the private lives of its citizens.

Dissatisfaction amidst the public

Hundreds of Muslim hard-liners, enraged by what they saw as too lenient a sentence, stormed a court compound in the city of Bandung after judges found the pop star guilty of helping to spread homemade videos of himself having sex with two top female celebrities.

Mr. Irham was rushed into an armored police car as white-robed protesters chanting “God is great” briefly clashed with uniformed members of Pancasila Youth, a nationalist group that was providing protection for Mr. Irham and his supporters. Hundreds of police officers in riot gear largely stood by as the hearing broke into chaos.

Aftermath

Neither side was pleased by Monday’s verdict.

Mr. Irham’s lawyer, O. C. Kaligis, dismissed it as a miscarriage of justice intended to distract the public from ongoing government corruption scandals. The court had acted wrongly by applying the law retroactively to acts that happened in 2006, he said, and had failed to prove that Mr. Irham had intended for others to see and spread private videos.

“They say Indonesia is a democracy, but where’s the democracy?” Ms. Maya said in an interview in the court compound.

Ms. Maya, who interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a 2009 visit, said she was “disappointed” with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who publicly backed a police investigation at the height of the scandal.

“We’re Indonesians, we pay taxes, we’ve never done anything wrong, we’ve done nothing,” she said. “But it’s like they’re raping our freedom, they’re raping our privacy.

“If this country is going to hand out punishments based on public opinion, then we may as well do away with the courts.”

But Abdul Qohar, the West Java provincial head of the Islamic Defenders Front, or F.P.I., said Mr. Irham’s videos had become a “virus” that was corrupting the nation’s youth and that the court should have accepted the prosecutors’ demand for five years in jail.

“Looking at this through Muslim goggles, for the F.P.I. and all Muslims, adulterers must be stoned to death,” Mr. Qohar said.

Both sides did agree that Mr. Irham’s case is likely just the start of efforts to crack down on immorality. For conservatives, this means a long overdue cleanup in line with the rising tide of Islam since Suharto’s overthrow in 1998.

For liberals, it is a sign of hypocrisy in a country where many leaders publicly preach piety while turning a blind eye to a massive industry of commercial sex and, for the rich of the big cities, a Bacchanalian nightclub culture rivaling other Southeast Asian nations.

The F.P.I. and allied groups were demanding that Ms. Maya and Ms. Tari also be brought to trial, Mr. Qohar said.

Reza Rizaldy, the music editor who had received the hard disk, was also sentenced to two years in prison and fined about $27,600. Like Mr. Irham, he has denied deliberately allowing the films to be copied and distributed.

Timeline of events

June 2010: Three sex videos — two allegedly featuring Nazril Irham, also known as Ariel, and his girlfriend, Luna Maya, and another showing the singer and TV presenter Cut Tari — begin circulating online. 

June 9, 2010: The National Police take over the case from the Jakarta Police. 

June 11, 2010: Ariel and Luna make their first public appearance since the scandal breaks by answering a police summons for questioning. 

June 18, 2010: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says his country must not stand “naked” before modern technology, signaling his support for an Internet filter to block porn. 

June 22, 2010: Ariel is arrested. 

July 9, 2010: Luna and Cut are named suspects in the case. 

July 16, 2010: Police announce findings that the sex videos were uploaded by a man identified only as Redjoy, a music editor for Ariel’s band, Peterpan. 

Nov. 22, 2010: Ariel is formally indicted for violating Article 29 of the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law, the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law (ITE), Article 56 of the Criminal Code for “participating in a crime” and an obscure emergency law passed over a half-century ago. 

Dec. 13, 2010: Cut admits she is the person in the sex video, but Ariel continues to deny it. 

Dec. 20, 2010: In her testimony, Luna says she cannot identify the woman in the sex video. 

Dec. 23, 2010: Experts are called in to testify, including Anton Castilani (medical expert from the National Police), Amir Syah Tambunan (Islamic law expert), Neng Zubaidah (expert on pornography law from University of Indonesia), Robby Sukri Alamsyah (IT expert) and Budi Haryanto (investigator from National Police headquarters). 

Jan. 6, 2011: Prosecutors demand that Ariel be sentenced to five years imprisonment and fined Rp 250 million ($28,000). 

Jan. 13, 2011: Ariel’s lawyers present a 107-page defense and Ariel reads a three-page statement titled “Nazril Irham, a Victim of Brutality” 

Jan. 31, 2011: Ariel is sentenced to three and a half years in jail and fined Rp 250 million. Redjoy is sentenced to two years in jail.

Source: nytimes, thejakartaglobe

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Written by

Felicia Chin

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