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Court clears "Playboy Indonesia" editor of indecency charges, says press law should have been used

(SEAPA/IFEX) - On 5 April 2007, a district court in south Jakarta acquitted "Indonesia Playboy" editor-in-chief Erwin Arnada of publishing indecent material, ruling that pictures of scantily-clad women "could not be categorised as pornography".

Presiding judge Efran Basyuning also ruled that any charges against the 42-year-old editor over the publication should have been made under the 1999 Press Law instead of the Penal Code.

In a 5 April statement, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia welcomed the court's decision, heartened that "there exists still a will to uphold the law in a just manner" in the face of verbal threats and demonstrations from Islamic hard-line groups since the trial began on 7 December 2006.

A SEAPA founding member based in Jakarta, AJI also voiced gratitude to the court for its "significant contribution in efforts to uphold rule of law and independence of the press". It sees the ruling as further affirming the Press Law as the authority for any disputes about the press.

"Playboy Indonesia" has been facing verbal threats from Islamic hard-liners since it first published in April 2006, and has had to relocate to the predominantly Hindu island of Bali after protesters stoned its office in the capital of the world's most populous Muslim country. The Indonesian version of "Playboy" is much tamer than the original, containing photographs of women models no more revealing than pin-ups found in local tabloids, and nothing like the widely-available hard-core pornographic videos and magazines.

The prosecution, which had requested a sentence of two years' imprisonment under article 282 of the Penal Code, is appealing the verdict.

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