Supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama hold a vigil outside Cipinang Prison, where the governor is held after he was found guilty of blasphemy against Islam by the court on Tuesday (09/05). (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Respect Court's Verdict Against Ahok: Jokowi

BY :FAROUK ARNAZ

MAY 10, 2017

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the Indonesian police have called on the public to respect Tuesday's (09/05) court decision to sentence Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to two years for blasphemy against Islam, amid controversies surrounding the verdict.

Thousands of pro-Ahok supporters and anti-Ahok protesters gathered outside the court in South Jakarta on Tuesday morning amid heavy security as Ahok was handed down a sentence which was unexpectedly harsher than recommended by prosecutors.

"I ask everyone to respect the legal process and the verdict delivered by the judges [in Ahok's trial]," Jokowi said in a statement released by his cabinet secretary on Tuesday (09/05).

The president was in Jayapura, Papua, to inaugurate an electric power plant.

He said the public also needs to respect Ahok's and his legal council's decision to appeal.

"But most importantly, we all need to trust the ongoing legal process," the president said, adding that to do so is part of democracy.

"I repeat, the government cannot intervene in the legal process," Jokowi said, adding that he has also received a request from Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo to suspend Ahok from his post and appoint his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat as acting governor.

The police reiterated Jokowi's call for the public to respect the court's decision.

"As expected, the court has shown its independence. Everyone should respect that," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto said at his office in South Jakarta.

"There should be no more arguments. There should be no more questions whether the decision was fair or not. All the legal mechanisms have been followed," Rikwanto added.

Tuesday's court verdict however came just days after thousands of Muslim protesters from Islamist groups took to the streets of Central Jakarta in a rally which they claimed was staged to "keep judges independent," but which was filled with calls to convict Ahok for blasphemy against Islam.

The Islamist groups made it a target of their protest last month's recommendation by prosecutors for a lighter sentence of a two-year probation with a possible one-year prison term for the outgoing Jakarta governor.

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