Jakarta governor Ahok ready to face blasphemy trial: Lawyer

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is escorted by Indonesian officers as he arrives at the Indonesian Attorney General Office in Jakarta on Dec 1, 2016.
Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is escorted by Indonesian officers as he arrives at the Indonesian Attorney General Office in Jakarta on Dec 1, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has responded to a summons by the National Police on Thursday (Dec 1), marking the complete handover of the blasphemy case from the police to the Attorney General's Office (AGO).

Ahok, who is seeking a fresh term in gubernatorial elections in February, arrived at the National Police headquarters at 9.24am without giving any comment to the press.

His lawyer Sirra Prayuna said the 50-year-old ethnic Chinese politician was ready to face the further legal process.

"We appreciate the cooperation between the AGO and the police. We will just wait for the further legal process and hope no parties will interfere with this legal process," Sirra said.

He added that the AGO's quick decision to declare Ahok's dossier complete was like a "year-end gift" for them.

"Just imagine, the AGO's examination process took less than two weeks. Now, after a short time, the AGO declared the case dossier complete. I think this is a super fast case," he said.

Police submitted the 826-page dossier to the AGO on Friday after naming Ahok a suspect of blasphemy on Nov 16 over a reference to a Quranic verse at an event in Thousand Islands regency in September.

The Criminal Procedure Law grants prosecutors 14 days to respond to the document submission.

Ahok has been charged under the Criminal Code's Article 156 Section A concerning blasphemy, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

Issues of race and religion have threatened to turn the upcoming gubernatorial election into a test of religious tolerance in Indonesia.

Mr Basuki is in a three-way fight in February’s gubernatorial election in Indonesia’s capital. Initially a hot favourite, he has seen his popularity dip after a video clip of him talking to a group of constituents in September was posted online.

In the video, he allegedly told them not to be misled by his opponents, who cited a verse in the Quran to urge Muslims not to vote for a non-Muslim.

Despite apologising, his remarks incensed hardline Muslim groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which staged a large-scale protest to call for his arrest last month following a smaller street march in October.

The FPI has planned another street rally on Friday and promised to mobilise even more than the 100,000 people said to have attended the public protest on Nov 4.