Prita Takes Firm Stand With Omni Over Suit

Prita Mulyasari, arguably the country’s most famous housewife for her David-and-Goliath struggle against a controversial defamation lawsuit, has decided to play hardball with Omni International Hospital. Slamet Yuwono, one of Prita’s lawyers, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday that the mother of two had refused to drop her Rp 1 trillion ($106 million) countersuit against Omni, despite the embattled hospital announcing it was willing to forego the Rp 204 million it sued Prita for in a civil case regarding a defamatory e-mail she sent about her mistreatment at the hospital. She would only do so if the two doctors, who allegedly misdiagnosed her in the first place, told the panel of judges hearing a separate criminal defamation lawsuit that they had erred and wished to withdraw their legal action, Slamet said. “We are still in the middle of the mediation process proposed by the Ministry of Health, so we don’t want to rush things,” he added. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih has offered to facilitate the mediation between Prita and Omni. The ministry has urged both parties to drop their lawsuits and settle the dispute amicably. Slamet said Prita would consider dropping her countersuit if Omni’s doctors, Hengky Gosal and Grace Hilza Yarlen Nela, agreed to ask the judges in the criminal trial to revoke their complaint against Prita because of a lack of supporting evidence. “It’s too late to drop a criminal case related to defamation, but it’s still possible for the doctors to ask the judge to stop it,” Slamet said. “They were the ones who started the dispute, so they should be the ones to end it.” Heribertus Hartojo, who heads Omni’s legal team, said the hospital was ready to drop its civil lawsuit and the Rp 204 million fine imposed on Prita after she lost the civil case against the hospital. “There is no catch,” he said. An outraged public has already raised the money required to cover the fine, while Prita’s lawyers have said they will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. Heribertus said Omni’s doctors did not mind asking the judges in the criminal trial to halt the case, however, Omni refused to stop the case over a lack of supporting evidence. “If we do that, it’s like we’re saying that these things didn’t happen, when they did,” he said. “We can only ask the judges to consider it, but we have no power to force them. We need to respect the ongoing legal process.” Heribertus said Omni would still drop its civil lawsuit today in the hopes that Prita would reciprocate. “We can only hope Prita accepts our gesture,” he said. “We’re dropping our civil lawsuit anyway, even though she has refused to do the same.”

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