A team of lawyers representing Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika have presented a subpoena (somasi) to Bali’s leading daily newspaper Bali Post for publishing information they alleged to be false. The legal team considers that Bali Post has fabricated news intended to be provocative in order to agitate public sentiment.
As reported by Beritabali.com, at stake are reports in Bali Post quoting the governor as calling for the dismantling of all traditional villages (desa pakraman) in Bali in connection with the recent violent clashes between the villages of in the Klungkung regency that left one dead, 28 injured and a group of villagers in police detention.
The Chairman of the governor’s team of lawyers, Nyoman Sumantha, said he and his colleagues have looked into the governor’s visit to the scene of the battle between the two groups and concluded that no reporter from Bali Post was present and covering the governor’s visit.
Said Sumantha: “(The Bali Post) did not directly hear, know, write down or record the governor’s statements. Based on our research, we strongly suspect that the report compiled by the Bali Post reported was gathered for other media in attendance at that time. Moreover, the news gleaned from other media has no words or statement saying "just dismantle the traditional villages.”
Sumantha contends that the Bali Post failed to verify their report through checks and rechecks as required by the journalistic code of ethics and made the atmosphere more acute by interviewing community religious and culture leaders for the reaction to their misrepresentation of the governor’s words.
The lawyers are said to be seeking damages from the Bali Post in the amount of Rp. 100 billion (US$11.1 million) for misreporting a call by the governor to disbanding of traditional villages, a statement the governor insists he never made.
If successful in his legal case against the paper, the legal damages and compensation sought from the Bali Post will be donated by the governor to all desa pakraman units in Bali.
Sumantha depicted the false report by The Bali Post as an effort to create conflict between the governor and Bali’s traditional villages. Adding,“(this act) has tended towards the assasination of the character of Made Mangku Pastika via a deliberate spreading of slander against Made Mangku Pastika - both as an individual and in his capacity as Governor of Bali, and attempting to pit the governor and the people of Bali’s traditional villages against each other.”
The governor’s lawyers have called on Bali Post to stop its lying and tendentious reporting about the dismantling of Bali’s traditional villages.
The Bali Post is also being asked to publish a retraction and apologized in the Bali Post and other print media in Bali via full-page advertisements running 7 days starting from September 24, 2011.
The Bali Post acknowledged the lawsuit via an article in its September 24th edition in connection with their article published on Monday, September 19, 2011 entitled “Governor: Just Dismantle the Desa Pakraman”.
The Chief Editor of the Bali Post, I Nyoman Wirata, said that while he valued the governor’s statement in the case, he insists his newspaper had not lied and had simply presented the results of its coverage from the field when governor Pastika met with the assistant regent of Klungkung, Tjokorda Gede Agung.
Wirata apologized if the news published by his newspaper is considered by the governor to be at odds with his statements. He said the case would be forwarded to the Press Council for resolution, the government agency empowered to consider and adjudicate complaints from the public about the press.
Wirata also rebutted claims made by Pastika lawyers that the Bali Post was alone in reporting the governor’s statements, citing similar reports in another newspaper Radar Bali on 19 and 20, 2011.
[Villagers Clash in Klungkung]
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