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

Jakarta's Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purname, also known as Ahok, arriving for his court hearing in Jakarta, on April 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - 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 on Tuesday (April 25).

Basuki, better known as Ahok, had appeared in court in the morning to submit his response to the prosecution's recommendation that he is guilty of the charge of blasphemy and be sentenced to two years' probation in lieu of a suspended jail term.

This means that if he commits the same offence during probation, he should serve one year in jail, prosecutors told the court in their closing arguments last Thursday.

Basuki told the court on Tuesday that he felt unfairly treated, as he was a victim of slander by Buni Yani, a former lecturer at a private university who was said to have edited and uploaded a video showing Basuki allegedly making an appeal that was deemed insulting to Islam.

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

"Ahok will not insult Islam, but the daily accusations (at me for doing so) were like German Nazi propaganda," said Basuki, referring to himself.

The case against Basuki, who is a Christian, involves his meetings with constituents in September last year, when he was heard referring to a verse in the Quran as he was telling them that they should not be misled by opponents urging Muslims to reject a non-Muslim leader.

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," said Mr Ali.

On Tuesday, the court also heard Basuki's lawyers repeat their defence of the case before setting May 9 for the verdict in the closely watched trial.

The hearing comes almost a week after Basuki lost a highly divisive election to former culture and education minister Anies Baswedan on April 19.

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