Judicial Commission Warns Against Trial By Media in Ahok's Blasphemy Case

Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama at the Constitutional Court earlier this year. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

By : Erwin C Sihombing & Eko Prasetyo | on 5:54 PM December 09, 2016
Category : News, Jakarta, Politics, Featured, Security

Jakarta. Indonesia's Judicial Commission said live television broadcast of Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial should be limited to prevent a "trial by media."

According to the commission, a non-stop live broadcast of the trial will only divide public opinion on the case even more and potentially compromise the independence of the court.

"The live broadcast should be allowed only during certain sessions," commission spokesman Farid Wajdi said in Jakarta on Friday (09/12).

Farid said the current regulation on live TV broadcast of a trial is a little unclear, though essentially Indonesian courts adopt an open trial system, where any member of the public, including the media, can attend trial sessions.

But the commission noted that previous live TV broadcast of high-profile trials, such as the infamous cyanide coffee murder trial, had led to public controversies and a trial by media.

Threat to judges' and witnesses' objectivity

Farid said continuous live broadcast 0f the trial may also unduly influence judges and witnesses in the trial, who are supposed to be independent.

"If the witnesses are allowed to watch the live broadcast, that might have an influence on their testimonies in court," Farid said.

However, the spokesman denied that the commission wants to restrict public access to the trial as that would make the court less accountable.

"It's just that unlimited live broadcast of the trial may interfere with the independence and objectivity of the judges, and it may also further divide public opinion in a situation that is already sensitive," Farid said.

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