Indonesian prosecutors recommend 2-year probation for Ahok over blasphemy charges

Jakarta's governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, arrives for his court hearing on April 20, 2017.
Jakarta's governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, arrives for his court hearing on April 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who has been on trial for blasphemy, may avoid jail time after prosecutors on Thursday (April 20) recommended that he be put on probation for two years.

But if he reoffends during his probation, he will be sent to jail for a year, the prosecutors told the court in their closing submissions during the hearing against Basuki, better known as Ahok.

Explaining the decision, state prosecutor Ali Mukartono said while Basuki had committed an offence, there were mitigating factors.

"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," said Mr Ali.

Buni Yani is a former private university lecturer who uploaded the video which showed Basuki allegedly making comments that were deemed insulting to Islam last year. 

The news comes the morning after Basuki lost in a highly divisive election to former culture and education minister Anies Baswedan, based on quick counts of votes from Wednesday's polls.
 

 

Avoiding a jail sentence that is less than five years will come as good news to Basuki. This means he can still continue in politics in Indonesia, which has laws that bans anyone sentenced to five years’ jail or more from holding public office.

But the court has yet to deliver a verdict on Basuki's case. He will have a chance to respond to the prosecution's recommendation at the next hearing which will be held on April 25.

The prosecution's latest move was met with anger by anti-Ahok protesters from Muslim hardline groups gathered outside the Agriculture Ministry auditorium, where the hearing is being held.