A prolonged trial in the South Jakarta District Court, that had stretched on for more than 15 months, ended on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, with the complete acquittal of Indonesian spiritual and religious figure Anand Krishna.
Anand Krishna has written more than 140 books that have sold more than 1 million copies. He operates Centers for education and meditation in Jakarta, Bogor, Yogyakarta and Bali.
Krishna was charged with sexual harassment by one of his female students, Tara Pradipta Laksmi (20), who claimed she was hypnotized before having her modesty outraged. Albertine Ho, the presiding judge brought in to rehear much of the case when the former presiding judge was removed for judicial misconduct, ruled that the testimony from a single witness was insufficient to rule a defendant guilty and the medical evidence idid not, in any case, substantiate Laksmi’s accusations.
In what had been widely viewed as a politically charged case where Krishna was on trial for his pluralistic religious views rather than any sexual misconduct, the prosecution spent weeks presenting excerpts from speeches made by the defendent and tracts written by Krishna, all dismissed by the defense team as not relevant to the case being tried.
During the 15 month-long trial, a total of 24 witnesses and nine expert witnesses testified before the court while leading legal experts across the nation repeatedly branded the trial as little more than a smear campaign against Krishna.
Terming his acquittal a "victory" for the Indonesian justice system, Anand Krishna told the press aftre hearing the verdict that he wished to now spend a period dedicating himself to prayer and meditation.
One of his supporters, Norma Harsono, summarized the feelings of the scores of supporters who came to the court to hear the verdict, saying:
“Finally the truth has prevailed. We can’t stop crying because we’re just too happy.”
Otto Hasibuan, a member of Anand Krishna’s legal team, said: “This appears to be a good day and a signal to all judges and prosecutors that charges made before the court are not always correct and that every case brought before the court does not have to end with a punishment for the defendant. Aside from the fact that the trial did not prove a single charge made against Anand Krishna, from both a formal and material side this case failed to meet the requirements necessary to be brought before the courts. This victory we accept with both a sense of thanksgiving and happiness.”
Other members of Anand Krishna’s defense team also expressed their thanks to the panel of judges.
The legal team is now considering whether or not to not to file counter charges against the plaintiff or the original cheif judge in the case. One of Krishna’s lawyers said that the trial, particularly under the initial judge who was removed, tried to used sexual harassment charges in order to camouflage a conspiracy to discredit Anand Krishna’s spiritual beliefs.
Another supporter, the chairman of the the Community of Friends of Anand Krishna (KPAA), dr. Sayoga, in reviewing the court’s decision stated: “This clearly shows that the incarceration of Anand Krishna by the first panel of judges led by judge Hari Sasangka was wrong and the people can now clearly see that Krishna’s hunger strike of 49 days was done in order that never again will a citizen be treated in the manner endured by Anand Krishna. Never again can a person be slandered and defamed in this manner.”
The public prosecutor Martha P Berliana, who led the 15-month long legal assault against Anand Krishna, did not attend the reading of the court’s verdict.
In the vistor’s gallery a number of leading Indonesian human rights figures did attend to show support for the defendant, including: the woman’s right and religious harmony activist Musdah Mulia; Father Franz Magniz Suseno; the former Minister of the Interior Djohn Effendi; well-know activist and writer Julia Suryakusumah and a large gathering of activists from Bali, Yogya, Solo and Riaw who all traveled to Jakarta to lend their support.
[Anand Krishna Ends Hunger Strike]
[A Hunger of Justice]
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