Prosecutors search for Playboy Indonesia’s former editor after he fails to show up at jail

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Playboy Indonesia’s former editor at large

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Prosecutors were searching for the former editor-in-chief of Playboy Indonesia on Friday after he failed to show up to begin his two-year jail sentence for publishing pictures of scantily clothed women.

They want to present Erwin Arnada — now at large — with a warrant for his arrest.

The Supreme Court said in August that it had found Arnada guilty of violating the predominantly Muslim nation’s indecency laws, overruling an earlier acquittal. His lawyers said he would start serving his two-year sentence Thursday and were unaware of his whereabouts Friday.

“I’m not a fugitive,” the former editor said in an interview with el-Shinta radio broadcast Friday. “I will turn myself in this week.”

It was not clear when the interview was recorded, nor where Arnada was at the time.

Indonesia, a secular nation with more Muslims than any other in the world, has a vibrant free press and a long history of tolerance, though a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

Arnada faced loud protests from the time the toned-down version of the American magazine hit newsstands in 2006. Within weeks, members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front stormed the magazine’s offices in south Jakarta.

They also started legal proceedings against him, but judges at the South Jakarta District Court acquitted the editor in 2007, saying pictures that appeared in the magazine could not be categorized as obscene.

The hard-liners appealed to the Supreme Court, which issued its decision during a closed-door session in August, said Yusuf, the chief of Jakarta’s prosecutor’s office who goes by one name.

“We’re looking for him now,” he said after Thursday’s no-show. “We want to present him with an official arrest warrant.”

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