07/13/2018, 16.35
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Ahok refuses parole, hoping for an early release

According to his sister, he could come be out in early August thanks to good behavior. The Christian politician has already served 14 of the 24 months sentence for blasphemy. He could benefit from day parole next month.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, "has decided against parole and will wait until he is completely free," wrote his sister Fifi Lety Indra on social media.

The politician, who has already served 14 of his 24 months sentence for blasphemy, could have benefited from four-hour parole starting next month.

According to his sister, Ahok could possibly leave the prison definitively as early as the beginning of August, after serving almost two thirds of his sentence, taking into account good behaviour.

Prison authorities have confirmed that the former governor has been "cooperative" during the entire period in prison but they have not issued any comments about his parole.

An early release would put an end to Ahok's controversial legal case. In his capacity as an elected official, he became a champion of pluralism for many supporters of Indonesia's moderate society.

On 9 May 2017, Ahok was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for defaming Islam in a controversial trial. On 26 March, his appeal to the Supreme Court (Makmamah Agung) was rejected.

In a doctored video made in September 2016 Ahok is seen warning voters in the Thousand Islands Regency against people who use verses of the Qur'an for political gain.

This sparked violent protests by radical Islamic movements and contributed to Ahok’s election defeat. Until then he was the favourite in Jakarta’s gubernatorial race in April 2017.

At first, Ahok refrained from appealing the verdict. However, a few months after his sentencing, the District Court in Bandung, capital of West Java province, sentenced Buni Yani, Ahok’s main accuser, to 18 months in prison for making discriminatory and defamatory remarks against the former Christian governor and for doctoring the video.

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