Jakarta frees former Christian governor convicted of blasphemy
by Mathias Hariyadi

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama granted early release of three months and 15 days. On May 9, 2017, he was sentenced to two years in prison at the end of a controversial trial. For the moment "will avoid public exposure".


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Former governor of Jakarta, Chinese ethnic Christian Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, is free again after serving almost two years for blasphemy in the national police prison at Kelapa Dua, Depok regency (West Java) Waiting for him outside the prison walls this morning was his eldest son Nicholas Sean, while supporters and sympathizers welcomed the progressive politician's invitation to keep a low profile.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who in recent days has expressed a desire to no longer be called with the Chinese nickname that accompanied him throughout his political career, has received a reduced sentence of three months and 15 days. Commenting on his upcoming release, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo yesterday stated that "from now on, it will be up to him to reorganize his future life". Widodo was a political ally of Purnama, his deputy during his tenure as governor of the capital that preceded the presidency of the Republic.

Purnama was the first Protestant Christian to play the strategic role of governor of Jakarta, following in the footsteps of Catholic Henk Ngantung, governor in 1964-1965. In the eyes of his supporters, he is not only a "fighter for democracy", but also a reference model for every public official serving the population. In his two years as governor, he brought about radical changes that improved the quality of life in the Indonesian capital: new bus systems, river cleaning, fight against corruption and green areas.

On 9 May 2017, Ahok was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for defaming Islam at the end of a controversial trial. His trial profoundly rocked civil society, feeding divisions in the public opinion of the most populous Islamic country in the world. According to his son, Purnama for the moment "will avoid public exposure". Its representatives state that the former governor is considering launching a talk show and managing family interests in the energy sector.

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