FPI Leader Rizieq Shihab Summoned as Expert Witness in Ahok’s Blasphemy Trial
Jakarta. State prosecutors will summon the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, Rizieq Shihab as an expert witness in Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial on Feb. 28.
The police said they will deploy additional personnel during the trial since Rizieq usually travels with a large entourage.
The trial will once again be held at a converted auditorium within the Agriculture Ministry headquarters in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.
"Ahok’s trial will be held on Tuesday as usual. If Rizieq attends as a witness, we'll be ready," Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said on Saturday (25/02).
Prosecutors will also bring in Abdul Chair Ramadhan as a criminal expert witness. Rizieq will be an expert witness on religious issues.
Ahok’s defense team leader Trimoelja D. Soerjadi said the prosecutors have only scheduled two expert witnesses for next week’s trial.
Meanwhile, Governor Ahok has returned to office after his re-election campaign, with Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo deciding not to suspend Ahok despite the ongoing trial against him.
According to the minister, Ahok could only be suspended before a verdict is reached in his trial if prosecutors demand a prison sentence of more than five years.
Article 83 of the 2014 Regional Government Law states regional heads may be suspended if they have been charged with any crime that carries a prison sentence of more than five years.
However, the charges Ahok currently faces involve less than five years' imprisonment.
Ahok referred to a verse in the Koran in a speech on Pramuka Island in September last year, which triggered the blasphemy charge — and now trial — against him.