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Cablegate: Family Sues United States for Causing Avian Influenza

VZCZCXRO9266
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0843/01 1190410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280410Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8835
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJB/DOJ WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7763

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000843

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, G/AIAG, L/DL, EAP/EX, AND OES/IHA
USAID FOR ANE/CLEMENTS AND GH/CARROLL
DEPT ALSO PASS TO HHS/WSTEIGER/ABHAT/MSTLOUIS AND HHS/NIH
DEPT ALSO PASS TO DOJ for OFL
GENEVA FOR WHO/HOHMAN
USDA/FAS/OSTA BRANT, ROSENBLUM
USDA/APHIS ANNELLI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO EAGR AMGT PGOV ID KLIG
SUBJECT: FAMILY SUES UNITED STATES FOR CAUSING AVIAN INFLUENZA

REF: A) JAKARTA 786 B) STATE 43100

1. (SBU) Summary. The U.S Government has been named in a lawsuit
brought y( the family of a victim of Avian Influenza (AI). The suit
rests on the claims made by Minister of Health Supari that the USG
may be behind the development of a bio-terrorism weapon derived from
AI samples. The complaint was improperly served on the Embassy and
the initial hearing has been postponed to May 13. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Embassy Received Legal Summons from Victim's Family
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) On April 16, 2008, the US Embassy Jakarta received a legal
summons from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DEPLU) naming the US
Government (USG) and World Health Organization (WHO) as defendants
in a case brought by the family of a recent avian influenza victim
(AI). The summons listed an April 22, 2008 court appearance. Per
reftels, Embassy Jakarta returned the papers to DEPLU because the
complaint was improperly served.

--------------------------------------
Victim Alleged to be Family's Provider
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The victim, Nasrudin, was a 32 year-old male from Sukamulya
village in Tangerang district, Banten province. He worked as a
vender selling fried chicken to customers in his neighborhood and
the plaintiff states Nasrudin was the provider for the plaintiff's
family. Nasrudin reported to the health clinic (puskesmas) in Cikupa
on January 22nd and the hospital discharged him. On January 24th, he
reported to Bakti Asih Hospital in Tangerang and on January 26th he
was transferred to Persahabatan Hospital where he died on January
29th, 2008. The victim's father is the plaintiff.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Allegations Rooted in Claims Made in Supari's Book
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the USG bears
responsibility for his son's death and relies heavily on the recent
book by Minister of Health Siti Fadilah Supari, "It's Time for the
World to Change: Divine Hand Behind Avian Influenza" and material
posted to the web site www.banjarmasinpost.co.id as proof of their
claims. The plaintiff requests financial recompense of Rp.
2,340,560,000 (approximately $253,800) for lost income and
"intangible losses" plus medical expenses. He also requests that the
defendants place a printed apology to the plaintiff in five printed
media for three consecutive days following the ruling.


-------------------------------------------
Case May Be Second Attempt for Compensation
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) This does not seem to be the first time that this plaintiff
has pursued legal avenues to receive compensation. Two internet
postings dated February 4, 2008, suggest that the victim's family
first brought a malpractice claim against the two hospitals that
treated him, citing that a misdiagnosis of dengue ultimately led to
the victim's death.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Defendants Not Properly Served with Legal Summons
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (SBU) The original court documents were drafted on March 3, 2008
but not received at the Embassy until April 16th. Since Embassy
Jakarta did not receive the summons in the 60 days required by
customary international law, the Embassy returned documents to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and did not officially appear in the
April 22 proceedings. A US Department of Justice local employee
present at the courthouse reported that the plaintiff or their
attorney called and asked whether the defendants were present. Upon
learning they were not, the case was adjourned to May 13. Embassy
Jakarta expects the summons to be re-served upon them in the
future.

JAKARTA 00000843 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) As of April 28, the World Health Organization has not
received notification from DEPLU. WHO Jakarta has shared copies of
our documents with WHO headquarters in Geneva and are awaiting
instructions.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Embassy Jakarta's Response Fielded by Public Affairs
--------------------------------------------- -------

8. (SBU) Anticipating negative publicity resulting from the lawsuit,
Embassy Jakarta's Public Affairs section issued a statement on the
day of court date denying the unfounded allegations. Two Indonesian
papers - The Jakarta Post and Koran Tempo - ran the statement,
however, media did not report the court case itself.

HUME

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