East Jakarta District Court Releases an Old Widow from Criminal Charges

12 October 2023

After a 2-month hearing since 9 August 2023, the East Jakarta District Court finally decided that Yatmi, an elderly widow who has 3 children, was released from criminal charges because her actions were not of criminal act in nature. Previously, the Public Prosecutor from the East Jakarta District Prosecutor Office had submitted the Defendant to trial on suspicion of committing fraud (which breached Article 378 of the Criminal Code) or embezzlement (which breached Article 372 of the Criminal Code) based on a criminal charge using alternative charges. The Public Prosecutor in his criminal charge argued that Yatmi was proven guilty of committing fraud and therefore demanded that the Panel of Judges at the East Jakarta District Court sentence her to 3 years and 6 months in prison.

Donny A. Sheyoputra, Yanto Jaya, Isnaya Denaswari and Cika Ghassani from the SHEYOPUTRA Law Office, who accompanied Yatmi from the beginning of the trial, proved that their client’s actions were not a form of criminal fraud because she bought the three plots of land in East Jakarta with good intention. It was evident during the process, that the three plots of land purchased was the subject of an ongoing civil dispute by a third party, who also claimed for ownership. Therefore, Yatmi decided to postpone repayment until there was a clarity on the legal status of the land based on a court decision regarding the real ownership of the three plots of land (which were the objects of the sale and purchase transaction with the complainant). After one of the three plots of land was no longer the object of dispute, Yatmi paid it off. However, this was not acknowledged by the Complainant who believed that the repayment of the three plots of land had to be done all at once and not divided.

The complainant in this case continued to receive money from our client and even persuaded her to make payments, but failed to admit this before the panel of judges. In fact, in accordance with the applicable provisions in the Civil Code, our client has the right to determine which debt she chooses to pay off first considering that the land sale and purchase agreement (PPJB) between our clients was made in three separate agreements before a public notary,” explained Donny A. Sheyoputra as coordinator of Yatmi’s legal counsel.

The Panel of Judges at the East Jakarta District Court carefully considered that the value of the loss mentioned by the Public Prosecutor was in fact the value of Yatmi’s debt for the two plots of land which she had not paid off. The Panel of Judges agreed with the written evidence including statements from witnesses and experts submitted by the Yatmi’s legal counsels, showed that the actions Yatmi were not fraud but rather a civil transaction.

On 12 October 2023 the East Jakarta District Court, urged for Yatmi to be released from all legal charges, restoring her abilities, position, honor and dignity. The Court also instructed Public Prosecutor to be immediately released from the State Detention Center (Rumah Tahanan Negara / Rutan) and charge all court fees to the state.

Responding to the decision of the Panel of Judges of the East Jakarta District Court, Donny A. Sheyoputra stated:

We are very delighted and appreciate the Panel of Judges who have decided this case fairly based on all legal facts revealed during the trial. From the start, we believed that the Public Prosecutor was unable to prove his own charges. Further, all testimonies of witnesses presented by Public Prosecutor actually benefited our client. The witnesses are those who know that our client has paid off one of the plots of land, an object no longer in dispute with other parties, but in fact the complainant refused to sign a Deed of Sale and Purchase with our client to release her ownership of the land. Furthermore, the Public Prosecutor in his argument copied the statements of these witnesses as written in the Case Dossier, not based on the actual testimonies or statements given during the trial. In fact, there was a statement from a witness who was illiterate, who clearly did not know the details of his statement during the investigation by police, which was still included by the Public Prosecutor despite the witness denying this at the trial, stating that his statement was made by the Polda Metro Jaya investigator because he could not read and write.”

Donny Sheyoputra added, “Our client has been arrested, detained with weak evidence, criminalized for a civil action which is contrary to the provisions of Article 19 Paragraph (2) of the Law No. 39 of 1999 concerning Human Rights. This law firmly states that people cannot be sentenced to prison or imprisonment for their failure to fulfill an obligation based on a debt and receivable agreement. In fact, our client only postponed repayment of her debt because the other two plots of land were still in dispute with third parties.”

As seen at the end of the trial, Yatmi and her family were unable to contain their emotions and were immensely grateful for the decision of the Panel of Judges that resulted in the dismissal of all her legal charges. Yatmi’s children were unable to hold back their tears because after more than five months of being separated from their elderly mother who was still being detained but was finally released from the State Detention Center on the orders of the panel of judges. “Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to the Panel of Judges of the East Jakarta District Court for their fair decision. With this decision, we hope that no more people will be criminalized, arrested and detained because of debt and receivable issues, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the law,” concluded Donny Sheyoputra.

Read More