Jakarta Post

Please Update your browser

Your browser is out of date, and may not be compatible with our website. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below.
Just click on the icons to get to the download page.

Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Video Weather icon 30°C
DKI Jakarta, Indonesia
30°C Partly Cloudy

Dry and mostly cloudy throughout the day.

  • Wed

    26℃ - 32℃

  • Thu

    25℃ - 32℃

  • Fri

    25℃ - 31℃

  • Sat

    26℃ - 30℃

Prose­cu­tors spare Ahok af­ter elec­tion de­feat

  • Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

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

Join the discussions