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Court Declares Alterina Male on Eyewitness Testimony

Alterina Hofan, who claimed to have been born a man with a gender-blurring chromosome disorder, was cleared of criminal charges for identity fraud on Tuesday by a court that also vindicated his male status.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

1st December 2010 03:20

Alessia Valenza

A panel of judges at the South Jakarta District Court ruled that although it could be proven that Alterina has falsified documents, his actions couldn’t be classified as a crime because of the sociological and psychological factors that were brought to bear on the case.

“The court pronounces that the defendant is cleared of any legal charges. His honor has to be restored immediately,” presiding Judge Sudarwin said.

In the verdict that wrapped up a six-month trial, it was confirmed that Alterina had grown up as a man despite being initially registered as female.

“The defendant was born a girl in Jayapura on November 1, 1977, based on the birth certificate issued by the local government,” Sudarwin said. “But when the defendant reached 7 years old, his male genitalia began to develop.”

“The penis has developed naturally by itself. The defendant has no vagina,” prosecutor Sutikno said.

Another judge of the all-male panel said they had been given a chance to observe Alterina’s genitals behind closed doors and concluded that the defendant “does have a penis, albeit small and below the normal size of that of an adult man.”

The physical examination was conducted because of conflicting conclusions by experts. The prosecution expert claimed Alterina was a woman, while a doctor working for the defense said the defendant was a man with “Klinefelter syndrome.”

Prosecutors last month demanded five years in jail for Alterina on charges that there was “a switch in gender status on an identity document to male that was used to marry Jane Deviyanti in a normal marriage between a man and a woman.”

They insisted that the defendant was a woman and that the marriage has harmed judicial and religious values in the country because no law or religion in Indonesia recognizes same-sex marriage.

Prosecutor Sutikno said the marriage had greatly upset Jane’s parents, who had opposed it from the beginning. But the presiding judge said “the marriage is based on mutual love.”

The prosecution earlier claimed that Alterina had illegally obtained an official family card that showed him as the husband and Jane the wife.

Jane’s parents, who opposed the couple’s marriage in Las Vegas reported Alterina to the police. Their earlier accusation that Jane had been abducted collapsed after their daughter said she had gone with Alterina willingly.

Prosecutors said a police DNA test proved Alterina was female. However, Kores Tambunan, one of Alterina’s lawyers, said the prosecution ignored an independent gender test conducted by experts at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, which concluded Alterina was male.

Catherine, the defendant’s mother, said her son’s identity was never falsified, saying that because his male genitalia had not developed at birth, she had registered Alterina as a girl.