Indonesian court to rule on Ahok's blasphemy case on May 9

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was in court on Tuesday (April 25) to respond to the prosecution's recommendation of two years' probation in lieu of a suspended jail term.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was in court on Tuesday (April 25) to respond to the prosecution's recommendation of two years' probation in lieu of a suspended jail term.PHOTO: AFP

The court will rule on the blasphemy case against outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama on May 9, as his trial drew to a close yesterday.

Basuki was in court earlier in the day to respond to the prosecution's recommendation of two years' probation in lieu of a suspended jail term. This means that if he commits the same offence during probation, he will serve one year in jail, prosecutors said in their closing argument last Thursday.

Basuki told the court that he felt unfairly treated, as he was a victim of slander by Buni Yani, a former private school lecturer said to have edited and posted online a video of Basuki allegedly insulting Islam.

A vital part of Basuki's statement was edited out of the video, creating the perception that his remarks were aimed at the Quran rather than at his political opponents, who he claimed had misquoted Quranic verses to support their agenda.

"Ahok will not insult Islam, but the daily accusations (at me for doing so) were like German Nazi propaganda," he said, using his Chinese nickname.

State prosecutor Ali Mukartono maintained last week that Basuki had committed an offence, but recommended a lesser charge after taking certain factors into account in his sentencing recommendation.

"Ahok acted politely during hearings, participated in the development of Jakarta, and the public disturbance (he is accused of causing) was partly due to a person named Buni Yani," Mr Ali had said.

The court also heard submissions by the defence before setting the date for its ruling.

Yesterday's hearing was held less than a week after Basuki lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to former culture and education minister Anies Baswedan.

Basuki also referenced the main character in the animated movie Finding Nemo when trying to communicate how he felt.

"I'm like a little Nemo in Jakarta, who will keep helping the poor and needy, although I'm defamed... due to my faith and belief, but I will keep serving with love," he said.

Many supporters paid tribute to Basuki and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat yesterday by placing flowers and wreaths outside City Hall with messages such as "Ahok- Djarot, keep the faith".

Separately, hardline cleric Rizieq Shihab failed to turn up for police questioning yesterday. The Islamic Defenders Front leader, who had led several rallies against Basuki leading up to the election, faces multiple charges - of insulting the national ideology of Pancasila and Christians, making hate speeches and, most recently, spreading pornography.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Court to rule on Ahok's blasphemy case on May 9'. Print Edition | Subscribe