Ratna Sarumpaet admits to lying about assault: ‘I never imagined such stupidity’

Ratna Sarumpaet (R) meeting with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto to tell him about her fake assault in October 2018. Photo: Twitter / @fadlizon
Ratna Sarumpaet (R) meeting with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto to tell him about her fake assault in October 2018. Photo: Twitter / @fadlizon

Well, it looks like many in Indonesia, including presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, got punk’d by Ratna Sarumpaet.

The 70-year-old Prabowo campaigner and icon of the controversial #2019GantiPresiden opposition movement has been under intense public scrutiny today after it was revealed that she might have lied about being assaulted by three unidentified men on September 21 in Bandung, when in fact she had plastic surgery done in Jakarta that day, which explained her swollen face in a photo that went viral recently.

Calling a press conference in her Jakarta home this afternoon, a visibly remorseful Ratna fessed up to the media that she fabricated the assault story. According to her, she underwent a facial liposuction procedure at a clinic in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on September 21, which caused her face to swell up the next morning. Not wanting to alarm her children, she told them that the bruising on her face was the result of a made-up assault (Ed. note: how is an assault less concerning than a common side effect of plastic surgery?).

“When my children asked me, I told them that I was assaulted. They continued digging into that short answer because they saw their mother was bruised. I never imagined such stupidity,” Ratna said.

She says the lie snowballed from there, circulating among her family and then her politician friends in the subsequent days.

“I don’t know how but I kept returning to that story. Please don’t take this as me justifying myself, I was wrong,” she said.

Ratna said she was especially sorry for having fooled Prabowo, a man she revers and hopes will be the next leader of the country.

On Monday, Ratna, who was once questioned by the police for treason over an alleged attempt by anti-government political figures to overthrow Jokowi in 2016, made headlines around the country recently after a photo showing her bruised face went viral online. According to her account, as relayed by fellow Prabowo campaigners, she was assaulted by three unidentified assailants at Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung, where she was attending an international conference on September 21. She claimed that she did not report the assault to the police out of fear for the safety of her family.

On Tuesday, she met with Prabowo himself to tell him about the assault, after which Prabowo and senior opposition politicians publicly condemned the “cowardly” attack.

“This is a repressive act, a clear violation of human rights… to do this to a lady who is already 70, it’s outrageous,” Prabowo said during the press conference.

Unfortunately for Ratna and Prabowo’s campaign, some quick detective work by the Jakarta Metro Police and West Java Police showed there was no assault at all.

In a police report that has circulated among Indonesian journalists and was received by Coconuts (which was then confirmed by the Jakarta Metro Police this morning), investigators found that there was no international conference in Bandung on the day of her supposed assault. There was also no record of Ratna’s arrival at Husein Sastranegara Airport that day either, nor was there any record of her checking in at the hospital where she claimed she was treated.

In fact, the police found that Ratna’s phone data records showed that she was in Jakarta from Sept. 20-24. Her financial transactions showed that she had three plastic surgery procedures done on the 20th, 21st, and the 24th in Jakarta. The police confirmed that Ratna did check in at the plastic surgery clinic on those days, as evidenced by CCTV footage of her entering and exiting the establishment.

In the report, the police say they may charge those suspected of spreading the lie with causing public disorder with misinformation, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or violating the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which is punishable by up to six years in prison.

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