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Prita Mulyasari to Seek Damages of Over Rp 1t In Ongoing Court Saga

Cause celebre Prita Mulyasari is preparing a countersuit of more than Rp 1 trillion ($118 million) at the Supreme Court against a Tangerang hospital that had her thrown in jail for complaining about her medical treatment in an e-mail message to friends, her lawyer said on Sunday.

Prita, a 32-year-old mother of two who is currently being re-tried for allegedly defaming two doctors from Omni International Hospital last year, is striking back after the Banten High Court last week upheld a separate civil suit against her by Omni, which saw her fined Rp 204 million in damages. The High Court had previously rejected her civil suit against Omni seeking monetary damages.

“Prita is demanding Rp 113 million in material damages and Rp 1 trillion in nonmaterial damages,” her lawyer Slamet Yuwono told the Jakarta Globe.

He said the suit would be filed against PT Sarana Meditama International, the parent company of Omni, and doctors Hengky Gosal and Grace Hilza Yarlen Nela.

“The Rp 113 million demand is meant to compensate for the bad treatment Prita endured at the hospital and the Rp 1 trillion is to seek compensation for her 21 days in detention [at Banten women’s prison], which caused irreparable damage to her life,” Slamet said.

Prita had sent an e-mail message to 20 friends complaining that she had been misdiagnosed with dengue fever at Omni in August 2008 when she actually had the mumps, and warned others against going there.

The e-mail circulated on the Internet and eventually came to Omni’s attention, prompting the hospital to file a civil defamation suit against her, claiming lost business.

The two hospital doctors also lodged a criminal defamation complaint against Prita with the Tangerang Police.

The case has outraged the public, tens of thousands of whom have joined a Prita support page on Facebook, and according to analysts, exposed the longstanding injustice and corruption within the country’s judicial system. 

The Banten High Court ruling on Wednesday came as Prita was awaiting the verdict in her criminal trial, in which she could be sentenced to six years in prison under the controversial Information and Electronic Transactions Law (ITE) for calling the two Omni doctors unprofessional and impolite.

Prosecutors have recommended a six-month prison sentence.

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