The Jakarta Post
Supreme Court justice Artidjo Alkostar, who presided over a case review petition filed by former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, has denied claims that he is closely connected to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
"That's wrong, very wrong," Artidjo told Tempo on Saturday.
The court announced on Monday that a panel of justices led by Artidjo had rejected Ahok's petition against his conviction, which sentenced him to two years in prison for defaming Islam.
A series of sectarian rallies spearheaded by the FPI preceded the conviction, read on May 9, 2017. The rallies demanded that the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who led Jakarta with Ahok as his deputy governor between 2012 and 2014, prosecute Ahok for blasphemy.
Ahok's legal defense team submitted the case review plea last month, saying that it was based on an error by the North Jakarta District Court judges in issuing their verdict against the controversial politician.
Reports about the alleged Artidjo-FPI connection emerged on Thursday. The reports are based on a 2014 statement by FPI leader Rizieq Shihab saying that Artidjo was a chairman of the FPI's law and human rights division before taking a job as Supreme Court justice in 2000.
Artidjo, meanwhile, said he had never been involved in any activities of the FPI.
He said he had previously defended non-Muslim minorities in several cases during his law career, which includes a three-year stint as a Human Rights Watch lawyer for its Asia Division and a seven-year stint as director of Yogyakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Yogyakarta).
"I once defended the Catholics in East Timor and Romo Mangun in Code River [in Yogyakarta], so it's impossible [that I have a connection with the FPI]," said Artidjo, referring to Catholic activist Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya, who defended residents living on the banks of Code River who were facing eviction by the then New Order administration. (mos/ahw)