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Indonesia: Court drops blaphemy case against Jakarta former Governor, still guilty of insulting individual Muslims

Friday 21 April 2017, by siawi3


Prose­cu­tors spare Ahok af­ter elec­tion de­feat

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, April 21, 2017 | 09:45 am

Photo: Prose­cu­tors spare Ahok af­ter elec­tion de­feat All ready: Blasphemy defendant Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama attends his trial at the North Jakarta District Court on April 20. The court’s judge panel sentenced him to one year in prison. (Republika/ POOL/Raisan Al Farisi via JP)

The past few months have been a long and ar­du­ous pe­riod for Jakarta Gover­nor Ba­suki “Ahok” Tja­haja Pur­nama, who has been mired in a blas­phemy case fol­low­ing sev­eral large-scale street ral­lies de­mand­ing his im­pris­on­ment and dis­missal.

His predica­ment cul­mi­nated on Wed­nes­day, when his po­lit­i­cal ri­val, Anies Baswedan, de­feated him in the Jakarta gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion by rid­ing a wave of grow­ing re­li­gious con­ser­vatism.

Directly af­ter his loss, Ahok was forced to sit through an­other court hear­ing in or­der to lis­ten to the pros­e­cu­tors’ de­mands on Thurs­day.

This time, how­ever, he could breathe a sigh of re­lief af­ter pros­e­cu­tors de­cided to drop blas­phemy charges against him.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, the pros­e­cu­tors de­manded the North Jakarta District Court sen­tence him to two years’ pro­ba­tion if found guilty of vi­o­lat­ing Ar­ti­cle 156 of the Crim­i­nal Code (KUHP) on show­ing an­i­mos­ity to­ward oth­ers. This is a far cry from the five years’ max­i­mum im­pris­on­ment for blas­phemy, as stip­u­lated in Ar­ti­cle 156a of the KUHP.

Should Ahok vi­o­late the pro­ba­tion, he should be sen­tenced to one year in prison, the pros­e­cu­tors said.

“We de­mand the judges rule two years’ pro­ba­tion and one year of im­pris­on­ment if the pro­ba­tion is bro­ken” pros­e­cu­tor Ali Mukar-tono said.

Ini­tially, the pros­e­cu­tors built their case against Ahok on the grounds that he in­sulted Is­lam by quot­ing Su­rah Al Maidah 51, a Qu­ranic verse of­ten used by cer­tain Mus­lim con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal groups to urge Mus­lims to vote only for po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates who share the same faith.

But on Thurs­day, they ad­mit­ted they could not prove Ahok had in­sulted Is­lam as a whole, but only in­di­vid­ual Mus­lims.

There­fore, the pros­e­cu­tors de­cided to with­draw their ac­cu­sa­tion that Ahok had vi­o­lated Ar­ti­cle 156a of the KUHP, an of­fense that car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of five years in prison upon con­vic­tion.

Fur­ther­more, the pros­e­cu­tors said Ahok had been co­op­er­a­tive dur­ing the le­gal process.

Also, they added that the con­tri­bu­tions he made to de­velop the cap­i­tal dur­ing his ser­vice as gov­er­nor were a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor.

How­ever, the pros­e­cu­tors said Ahok was still guilty of show­ing an­i­mos­ity to­ward Mus­lims who be­lieved that Su­rah Al Maidah 51 in­structed them not to choose non-Mus­lims as lead­ers.

The pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued since Al Maidah 51 had var­i­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tions, even among Mus­lims, Ahok was at fault be­cause he acted as if he knew the cor­rect un­der­stand­ing of the verse.

They claimed that when Ahok said Thou­sand Is­lands res­i­dents could be de­ceived by some of the in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Su­rah Al Maidah 51, Ahok had not only in­sulted Mus­lims who had a dif­fer­ent view to him, but also Thou­sand Is­lands res­i­dents, who are mostly Mus­lim.

“The de­fen­dant acted as if his in­ter­pre­ta­tion is cor­rect and said peo­ple who be­lieve other in­ter­pre­ta­tions were be­ing tricked,” pros­e­cu­tor Ardito Muwardi said.

Nev­er­the­less, Ahok was not the only one to blame in the case, the pros­e­cu­tors said.

They cited Buni Yani, now a hate-speech sus­pect, who up­loaded an edited video of Ahok’s speech to his Face­book ac­count with a mis­lead­ing tran­scrip­tion.

That video led to pub­lic up­roar and the gov­er­nor’s blas­phemy charges, the pros­e­cu­tors said.

Pedri Kas­man, the sec­re­tary of Muham­madiyah’s youth wing, who re­ported Ahok for blas­phemy to the po­lice, said he be­lieved the pros­e­cu­tors were bi­ased.

“This le­gal process was in vain as it has been in­ter­fered with by par­ties with power,” he said.


Police advise court to delay Ahok hearings

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, April 7, 2017 | 07:52 am

Police advise court to delay Ahok hearings Get ready: Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama gets prepared to attend his blasphemy trial at the North Jakarta District Court on April 4. (Antara/Gilang Praja)

The Jakarta Police believe legal proceedings against embattled governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama are adding to alreadyheightened public tension in the lead-up to the gubernatorial runoff election on April 19.

As part of efforts to ensure a safe and peaceful election, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan has sent a letter to the North Jakarta District Court, requesting that it postpone further hearings of Ahok’s trial, given the vulnerable security conditions in the capital.

The postponement was necessary because police and military personnel would have to start shifting their focus to safeguarding the election, he said.

“We suggest that the prosecution’s sentence demands in Ahok’s blasphemy trial be postponed until after the runoff,” Iriawan said in the letter made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday. The letter was also sent to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the National Police chief, the police’s general supervision inspector, the Jakarta High Court head and the attorney general.

Late last year, police requested that the trial be moved from the North Jakarta District Court to the Agriculture Ministry’s main hall in South Jakarta due to security concerns.

Based on an initial schedule, prosecutors are expected to make their sentence demands on March 11, while the defendant is scheduled to read out his defense statement on April 17, just two days before the runoff.

The campaign period, which runs from March 7 until April 15, has been dominated by religious sentiment and racial bigotry resulting from the blasphemy allegations against the governor, who is a Christian of Chinese descent.

In early March, some local mosques displayed banners saying that those who voted for “blasphemers” would not be entitled to Islamic funeral rites and prayers when they died.

Less than three weeks before the election, thousands of people staged a rally called “313” in reference to the date to demand the incarceration of Ahok.

Further, there is the antiAhok Tamasya Al-Maidah movement, facilitated through an application available on Playstore, which encourages Muslims from across the country to flock to polling stations to supervise the election.

Separately, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the police’s letter was issued to ensure voting day would pass safely, especially given the fact that Ahok’s scheduled hearing on April 17 would take place in the cooling-off period between April 16 and April 18.

Separately, North Jakarta District Court spokesman Hasoloan Sianturi said the court had received the letter, but in accordance with a decision made by judges in an April 4 hearing, the trial would continue on April 11.

The decision to postpone hearings could only be made in the courtroom, he added.

Ahok’s lawyer Fifi Lety Indra said the governor’s legal team would comply with the court’s decision regarding the next hearing.

Besides requesting the court to postpone Ahok’s hearing, Gen. M. Iriawan also informed the court that the police would postpone their interrogation of Ahok’s rival candidate pair, Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who have also been reported to the police for several alleged violations.

Ahok’s legal team reported Anies for alleged defamation on Wednesday after the candidate publicly claimed that Ahok would evict the residents of 300 areas across the city if he was reelected as Jakarta governor.

Sandiaga was reported by a person named Edward S Soeryadjaya to the Jakarta Police for alleged embezzlement and receipt forgery.

A campaign team member of Anies and Sandiaga, Yupen Hadi, said the team appreciated the police’s order.