The Jakarta Post
In what appeared to be an emotional moment, incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama appealed for public support on Thursday in getting a fair and transparent trial for his blasphemy case.
Suppressing his typically outspoken personality while speaking to dozens of reporters, Ahok expressed hope that the allegation, which has been consuming most of his energy and mind in the midst of his reelection campaign, could be settled as soon as possible.
“I ask you to pray for me so that the legal process is fair and transparent, and I hope I can get past this trouble as soon as possible,” he said in a soft tone.
“Therefore, I can use my time to provide better services to Jakarta residents,” said Ahok, who is known to be a close associate of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Ahok’s statement struck a religious tone when he said he had surrendered to God and that he believed the fate of humans had been predetermined by the Almighty .
Ahok was speaking at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) after witnessing the handover of his dossier from the National Police to the AGO ahead of his trial.
Later in the evening, the AGO submitted the dossier to the North Jakarta District Court — the fastest process ever recorded. The AGO usually needs more than a month to study a dossier before passing it to a court.
With the North Jakarta court under renovation, the trial will be moved to Central Jakarta, but the proceedings will be under the management of the North Jakarta court.
The AGO has charged Ahok under articles 156 and 156 (a) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on blasphemy and incitement after making a controversial remark in Thousand Islands regency on Sep. 27 referencing a Quranic verse.
The articles carry a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment.
The AGO, however, dropped a proposal from the police to also charge Ahok under Article 28 (2) of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law on hate speech, which carries a maximum punishment of six years’ imprisonment.
The AGO said it had no plans to detain Ahok during the prosecution phase, as the governor had proven to be cooperative during the investigation, adding that his travel ban would remain in place.
“The team tasked with reviewing the case has agreed that it will not be necessary to detain Ahok,” AGO spokesperson Muhammad Rum said.
As prosecutors have declared the case dossier complete, Ahok is now waiting for the court to schedule his trial.
Ahok’s legal counsel, Sirra Prayuna, has expressed concern over the independency of the court, given the enormous public pressure for Ahok to be declared guilty.
Since an allegedly tampered video of Ahok making the controversial remark went viral, the governor has been facing mounting pressure from conservative Islamic organizations that accuse him of committing blasphemy.
Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, has repeatedly apologized, and has claimed the video had been taken out of context, but the conservative groups refuse to accept his apology.
The National Police named Ahok a suspect on Nov. 16 in the blasphemy case, a move considered to have been motivated by public pressure after a number of Islamic groups held a large-scale protest in Jakarta on Nov. 4 attended by more than 100,000 people.
Their second protest will be held on Friday, and while they intend to hold mass prayers and recite the Quran, the groups insist that their request remains the same: to have Ahok detained.
Escalating racial and religious slurs over the past couple of weeks have apparently undermined Ahok’s reelection bid, as indicated by recent surveys suggesting a sharp decline in his electability.
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