Prosecutor, defense file appeals over verdict in Bali musician Jerinx’s hate speech case

At left, a photo of Jerinx, and a screenshot of his the post deemed to contain hate speech at right. Screengrabs: Instagram
At left, a photo of Jerinx, and a screenshot of his the post deemed to contain hate speech at right. Screengrabs: Instagram

The prosecutor in the case of I Gede Ari Astina, or Jerinx, yesterday lodged an appeal over the musician’s final sentence at Bali’s High Court, which was then followed by the defendant’s legal representative also filing an appeal over the guilty verdict.

The Balinese musician and controversial figure, who is also known as JRX, was sentenced to 14 months in prison last week after a trial that was seen as another complex threat to freedom of speech in Indonesia. 

Jerinx was “proven to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act by deliberately and unrightly spreading information that has the purpose of creating hatred or enmity among the public,” according to head judge Ida Ayu Nyoman Adnya Dewi.

With yesterday being the deadline to file an appeal in the case, both the prosecutor and defense lawyer have reportedly done so. 

A spokesman from Bali’s High Court confirmed that a prosecutor in the case has filed an appeal, reasoning that “the judges’ decision has not been a deterrent for the defendant or the public to be careful when using social media.” 

According to Jerinx’s defense lawyer I Wayan Suardana, his client did not intend on filing an appeal but decided to do so following the prosecutor’s move.

Jerinx, the drummer of arguably Indonesia’s biggest pop-punk band Superman Is Dead (SID), has been on trial over a post deemed insulting by the Balinese chapter of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI). In June, the 43-year-old uploaded a post to his Instagram account @jrxsid where he accused IDI of being “flunkeys” to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Balinese musician said tests to detect COVID-19 are inaccurate and questioned why the association and hospitals in Indonesia are making testing a requirement for expecting mothers.

Rapid tests are indeed an inaccurate means of screening for the coronavirus, a matter that health experts in Indonesia have also pointed out repeatedly. However, the test is still required for many administrative requirements in the country, including for travel and women who are giving birth in hospitals.

Compounding the issue is that Jerinx’s vocal rejection against rapid tests coincided with his active sharing and endorsement of COVID-19-related conspiracy theories on social media, including calls for people to stop wearing masks during the pandemic.

During his trial, Jerinx said that he called IDI flunkeys in order to get a reaction from the association.

“I wished to gain a response, because I had asked IDI to discuss previously and they did not respond. So I was forced to use an eccentric diction with the hopes that it will be responded to,” Jerinx previously said.

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