Presidential contender Prabowo Subianto has apologized for amplifying a false claim made by his campaign team member, Ratna Sarumpaet, that she had been a victim of assault.
Ratna claimed on Tuesday that she had been assaulted by three men in Bandung, West Java, last month, after a photo showing her with a swollen face circulated on social media. A day later, Ratna admitted to having lied, saying that her face was swollen as a result of liposuction.
“Personally, and in my capacity as the leader of the [campaign] team, I apologize to the public for saying something that had not been confirmed yet,” Prabowo told reporters after Ratna’s confession.
“I apologize for being too hasty. We are a new team and are still learning. But there is no excuse. If we are wrong then we admit that we are, and we apologize for it,” he said.
The former general said Ratna had resigned from the team and he would not interfere with any legal action taken against her.
“We won’t tolerate hoaxes. If one of our team members spreads hoaxes or lies, we’ll firmly take actions against them. And we’ll even report it to law enforcers,” Prabowo said.
Ratna’s claims turned political after presidential contender Prabowo Subianto met her and denounced the “assault” against her, saying that he would speak to National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian about the “human rights abuse.”
Ratna has apologized to Prabowo and the public for her deception, particularly to National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, “who had been patient listening to me lying yesterday.”
The police had indicated that Ratna could be charged with spreading lies and hate speech as stipulated under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law, but it remained unclear if she would be prosecuted.