Trial opens for Playboy Indonesia's editor-in-chief

The editor-in-chief of Playboy Indonesia went on trial Thursday on charges of publishing indecent material, a move cheered by religious groups in the predominantly Muslim country.

A prosecutor told the South Jakarta District Court that Erwin Arnada oversaw photo shoots and selected revealing pictures of female models in underwear, some showing partially exposed breasts.

"The models also had inviting expressions on their faces," said Resni Muchtar, calling for the maximum sentence of 32 months in prison.

Indonesia is a secular nation with more Muslims than any other in the world, some 190 million, but most practice a moderate form of the faith, due in part to Hindu, Buddhist and animist beliefs that held sway long before traders brought Islam to its shores in the 14th Century.

Fundamentalists, taking cues from the Middle East, have been pushing hard to change that.

When the toned-down version of Playboy Indonesia first hit the streets in April amid a blaze of publicity, they loudly protested and in one incident threw rocks at its offices in the capital, forcing it to move to mostly Hindu Bali.

Arnada has argued that his magazine contains no nudity and is much tamer than Indonesian versions of Western and local men's lifestyle magazines that have been on sale for several years with little outcry.

Pornographic films on video, though illegal, also are sold more or less openly at stores across the country.

"But as a good citizen, I will follow the legal process," Arnada, who was not required to make a plea, told reporters after Thursday's hearing.

His trial was adjourned until Dec. 14, when witnesses will be called.

Playboy, which already has 20 international editions with content tailored to local tastes, has been seeking new markets in Asia and Indonesia is its first predominantly Muslim nation, reports AP.

The magazine continues to be sold on street corners for around US$5 (Ђ3.5), more than twice the minimum daily wage in Jakarta, despite efforts by Muslim groups who said they were grateful at least that the case had made it too court.

"Playboy is the global icon of pornography," said Ma'ruf Amin, a member of Indonesia Council of Clerics, the country's highest Islamic body. "We will never tolerate its presence in our country."

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