As Peterpan’s Ariel Leaves Prison, Some Ask Why He Was Ever There
Rangga Prakoso & Heru Andriyanto
With pop star Nazril “Ariel” Irham’s release on parole after serving two years of his three-and-a-half-year sentence over leaked sex videos, legal activists continue to insist the case should never have gone to trial.
Ariel, the lead singer of the band Peterpan was released from Bandung’s Kebon Waru Penitentiary on Monday at 9:15 a.m., and will have to undergo regular counseling as a condition of his probation.
His lawyer, Otto Cornelis Kaligis, said on Saturday that Ariel was the victim in the case because he was not responsible for leaking the videos online.
“Ariel wasn’t the one who distributed them,” Otto said. “That happened without his knowledge. This case never deserved to go to court.”
Ariel was arrested in June 2010 for posting several sex videos online. Some featured him with his girlfriend, model and TV presenter Luna Maya, while others featured him and Cut Tari, another model and presenter who was married.
He was convicted in January 2011 under the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law for distributing pornography, despite prosecutors failing to prove he was the one who posted the videos online.
He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, including time already served, and fined Rp 250 million ($26,000).
The videos were stolen from Ariel’s computer by a former Peterpan employee, Reza Rizaldy. Reza gave the videos to his cousin, who uploaded them to the Internet. Reza was sentenced to two years, while the cousin was not charged.
Kaligis said that because Ariel was convicted only of filming the videos, he should not have been charged under the ITE Law.
“Those incidents [filming] occurred in 2006, while the ITE Law was passed in 2008. It shouldn’t have been applied retroactively,” he said.
Adrianus Meliala, a criminologist from the University of Indonesia, said the police’s case against Ariel was so weak that they failed to find any articles in the Criminal Code to charge him with.
He said the only reason Ariel finally went on trial was because “the case was so widely reported by the media that the police couldn’t drop it.”
The police had initially sought to bring a charge of adultery, which is a criminal offense, but could not because Cut Tari’s husband, Johannes Yusuf Subrata, chose not to press charges.
Adrianus said none of the other sex-related articles under the Criminal Code could be brought to bear, given that the videos portrayed consensual sex acts, thus forcing police to turn to the ITE Law.
The two women were also briefly threatened with similar charges, but Kaligis said the case against them had been quietly dropped a long time ago.
However, high-profile lawyer Farhat Abbas has called on police and prosecutors to charge Luna and bring her to trial. “The law must be upheld otherwise this will be a matter of discrimination,” he said on Sunday. “In fact, Ariel and Luna should have been tried at the same time.”