Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama at his blasphemy trial on Tuesday (21/02). (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

Supreme Court Unable to Offer Legal Opinion on Ahok's Status as Governor


FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Jakarta. Supreme Court judges have said they are unable to provide a legal opinion on whether or not Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama should be allowed to continue on his job while standing trial on blasphemy charges.

The court's statement was issued in an official reply to a request from the Home Affairs Ministry.

"You can see the complete statement in our reply issued on the same day [the request from the ministry was lodged]," Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Syarifuddin said in Jakarta on Tuesday (21/02).

Syarifuddin said the Supreme Court is unable to give any legal opinion on the issue since doing so may put undue pressure on the court that is currently handing the blasphemy case.

The Supreme Court's stance was also influenced by lawsuits challenging Ahok’s status as governor lodged with the State Administrative Court, or PTUN.

It says in the reply letter to the Home Affairs Ministry that "since the request for a decision [on Ahok's status] is related to the ongoing lawsuits at PTUN, the Supreme Court will not be able to provide a legal opinion."

"There are two lawsuits on the same issue currently being heard at the PTUN. If we make any comment on Ahok's status, it will put pressure on the judges," Syarifuddin said.

He added that the Supreme Court will leave it to the Home Affairs Ministry to decide on Ahok’s status.

"Yes, we are [leaving the decision on Ahok to the ministry]," he said.

Previously, the Indonesian Muslim Brotherhood, or Parmusi, and the Advocates of Patriotism, or ACTA, both closely affiliated with the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, also filed a lawsuit against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for letting Ahok continue on his job as governor despite being tried on blasphemy charges.