July 21, 2006

Jakarta editor could face trial over prophet cartoons

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian journalist being
investigated for publishing controversial cartoons lampooning
the Prophet Mohammad last year is likely to face trial, his
lawyer said on Friday.

Prosecutors detained Teguh Santosa, chief editor of the
online version of mass-market Rakyat Merdeka newspaper, on
Wednesday as they finalised a blasphemy case against him.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is
officially secular, but has laws banning religious insults.

If the case reaches court and judges find Santosa guilty of
blasphemy, he can face up to five years' jail.

Santosa was released a day later following criticism from
journalists and government officials, and after the defense
team filed a formal complaint.

"On Thursday, my request was approved. The suspect did not
publish the caricatures to influence people. We are now waiting
whether the prosecutors would file charges to the court or
not," said lawyer Rawi Syahroni.

Local media reported on Friday Attorney-General Abdul
Rahman Saleh thought Santosa's detention was unnecessary.

The caricatures first appeared last September in Denmark's
Jyllands-Posten and Rakyat Merdeka published them on its Web
site the next month without sparking much protest.

However, the reprinting of the cartoons on Rakyat Merdeka's

Web site and other media outlets elsewhere in the world
early this year triggered violent protests by Muslims
worldwide, including in Jakarta.

More than 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people
follow Islam. Most Indonesian Muslims are moderate, but public
concern on Islamic issues and militancy have grown in recent