Prita Mulyasari Willing to Take 'Ultimate Oath' to Prove Innocence: Lawyer

Prita Mulyasari’s lawyer told the press on Thursday that his client was willing to do a sumpah pocong , an “ultimate oath” form of traditional ritual used in rural villages, to prove her innocence in her defamation trial. The statement came after one of the prosecutor’s witnesses, Ogyana Nandri, the customer service coordinator at Omni Hospital in Tangerang, Banten, told the court on Thursday that Prita was extremely rude to him when she spoke to hospital staff over the phone. Prita is being prosecuted for writing an e-mail complaining about her care at the medical facility. “Ogyana said that Prita called her a dog,” Pita’s lawyer Slamet Yuwono said, adding the testimony brought Prita to tears. “Prita told the judge that as a person of religion she would never speak so rudely and that she was willing to perform a sumpah pocong to prove it.” Slamet protested against the witness’s testimony because it was not recorded in the investigation report, but prosecutor Riyadi from the Tangerang Prosecutors’ Office told the court that Ogyana’s testimony would be analyzed juridically. A sumpah pocong is a traditional practice used in local investigations that have come to a dead end. The person alleged to have committed a crime is swathed in a white cloth used in Muslim burials, and then swears his or her innocence. Some local people believe that if the person lies, they will die. Prita’s defamation trial would recommence next Thursday when the prosecutors present two more witnesses — a doctor from Bintaro International Hospital who claimed to be one of the recipients of Prita’s email and a linguistics expert from the Ministry of National Education. Prita was jailed for three weeks earlier this year in connection with the defamation case. She was freed only after a public outcry on the Internet and in traditional media. Omni has expressed a willingness to drop the case, but the hospital and its former patient have been unable to agree on how to resolve the matter. The hospital has claimed that Prita’s e-mail, which was widely distributed on the Internet, damaged its doctors’ reputation and harmed its business. Critics say the case is an attempt to stifle free speech using the controversial the Electronic Transaction and Information Law, which was enacted in 2008. Bogor Police recently said they were investigating a girl, 18, for calling another girl a “dog” on the Facebook Web site.

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