Jakarta. The North Jakarta District Court found incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison on Tuesday morning (09/05).
A team of judges, led by Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, announced the court's verdict of the highly divisive, months-long blasphemy hearing at a converted auditorium at the Agriculture Ministry's headquarters in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.
The judges rejected Ahok's defense, saying the governor's conduct was in no way relative to national unity.
Ahok, whose term as the capital's governor is set to conclude in October, said he will soon appeal the court's findings.
"How will you respond?" Judge Dwiarso asked the governor and his legal counsel after reading the court's verdict.
"We will appeal," Ahok said.
Meanwhile, state prosecutor Ali Mukartono said he respects the court's verdict, but will prepare for the defense's impending appeal.
"We honor the verdict from the judges. We will determine our stance according to the law," Ali said.
Judge Dwiarso instructed Ahok to file his appeal with the court’s registrar.
"Although you have appealed, you still have to register with the court and sign the certificate [of appeal]. The court is hereby concluded and closed," Dwiarso said.
Ahok's blasphemy trial has become a litmus test for tolerance in the diverse country.
Prosecutors earlier in December indicted Ahok on alternative charges of blasphemy and hate speech, which respectively carry a maximum penalty of five and four years of imprisonment.However, North Jakarta District Court prosecutors last month demanded two years probation with a possible one-year jail term for Ahok, downgrading the charge against him, who had been facing blasphemy charges since November last year.
Some analysts have said that Ahok's political rivals, namely former education minister Anies Baswedan, have used the embattled governor's blasphemy case as political fodder to drive public sentiment against the ethnic Chinese and Christian governor. On April 19, Anies bested Ahok in Jakarta's gubernatorial run-off election, and is set to take office in October.
Ahok was immediately taken into custody after the passing of the court's verdict.
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