03/26/2018, 17.20
INDONESIA
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The Supreme Court rejects Ahok's appeal against his blasphemy conviction

by Mathias Hariyadi

His accuser, Buni Yani, had been convicted of inciting hatred. He had tampered with the video on which the Christian politician had been convicted in May 2017. For his lawyer, the ruling was influenced by politics.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama (picture), the former governor of Jakarta, an ethnic Chinese Christian, against his convection on blasphemy charges, a court official said today.

On 9 May 2017, Ahok was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for defaming Islam, following a controversial trial.

A tampered video from September 2016 shows Ahok warning residents in Thousand Islands Regency against people who use the verses of the Qur'an for political gain.

The tape sparked violent protests by radical Islamic movements and contributed to Ahok’s defeat in gubernatorial election in Jakarta in May 2017. Until that time, he had been in the lead.

At first, Ahok had refrained from launching an appeal against the verdict. However, a few months later, the District Court in Bandung, capital of West Java province, sentenced Buni Yani, his main accuser, to 18 months imprisonment for spreading discriminatory and defamatory remarks about the former Christian governor and tampering with the incriminating video.

Indonesian moderates placed much hope in the appeal Ahok filed in February after nine months in prison. Many were also reassured by the presence of Justice Artidjo Alkostar, head of the judging bench, given his reputation.

Ahok's lawyer, Fify Lety Indra, who is also his sister, filed the case saying that the North Jakarta District Court had made a mistake in convicting her brother of blasphemy, using Buni Yani's conviction as the main evidence.

However, today Justice Suhadi, spokesman of the Supreme Court, announced the rejection of the petition.

A few hours after the announcement, AsiaNews interviewed some Jakartans, who like the rest of the country are more and more divided about the Ahok affair.

"This is a decision taken consensually by three judges,” said Jodie. “No dissenting opinion was issued. So, I think that such a decision is good and wise.”

"Ahok must enjoy his 'retreat' in the detention centre. He will not yet be able to enjoy freedom, as most of 'nationalist' Indonesians expected."

Yudo Prihanto, a Christian lawyer, disagrees "Since the reasons for the ruling have not yet been made public, it is hard to comment on it from a legal point of view. However, as a Christian, I have to think differently.”

“According to what I have surmised, the verdict is not merely a legal decision, but has also been strongly influenced by politics. Thus, it is a mixture of political and legal decisions. There are many ‘political interests’ involved."

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