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Military officer sentenced for assaulting journalist

(IFJ/IFEX) - January 24, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the successful prosecution of a former Indonesian military intelligence officer who severely assaulted a journalist in Banda Aceh, in the country's west, but has called the relatively lenient 10-month prison sentence into question.

In a military tribunal hearing on January 21 at the Iskandar Muda Military Command in Banda Aceh, First Lieutenant Faizal Amin was found guilty of grievous assault for an attack on Ahmadi, a reporter with Harian Aceh. Amin was also sentenced for damaging the journalist's laptop computer and mobile phone and for using a military-issued weapon to threaten Ahmadi's life.

Military prosecutors had originally sought a five-year sentence for the attack on Ahmadi, who says he is happy with the sentence and has forgiven his attacker, according to local media reports.

Ahmadi was beaten and threatened in the May 21, 2010 attack for publishing an article linking the police and military to illegal logging. Amin had earlier warned Ahmadi not to publish the story when the journalist approached him for comment. In the attack Ahmadi was struck in the face, asked to remove his clothes and shot at three times, and death threats were made against his family.

"While the IFJ welcomes the sentencing of Amin, questions need to be asked about the severity of the punishment in this case," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"A history of impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers is difficult to overcome, and it is crucial that punishments adequately match the crime."

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