Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a suspect in a blasphemy trial, objected to an expert witness presented by the prosecutors on Tuesday (07/02), Hamdan Rasyid, since he was a member of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, which in October last year had issued an official statement declaring that Ahok had insulted Islam.
Hamdan Rasyid is a member of MUI's fatwa commission. He appeared in the trial that was held in a converted auditorium at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.
Ahok’s lawyer Humphrey Djemat said the defense team had questioned Hamdan's objectivity and independence as a witness in the trial.
"He is a MUI official, a member of its fatwa commission. He was sticking to the MUI position as expected, but he was an expert [witness], he should have been independent," Humphrey said.
"He said what the MUI chairman [Ma’ruf Amin] had already said. For us, this is unacceptable," the lawyer added.
Speaking after the trial, Governor Ahok said next week’s trial will be held on Monday, Feb. 13, in the same location.
"We'll meet again on Monday. I imagine all the security officers here will be away at the polling stations by then," Ahok joked.
Defense team refused to acknowledge Hamdan
Humphrey said according to police records Hamdan and MUI Chairman Ma’ruf had been interviewed at the same time barely two hours before Ahok was declared a suspect in the blasphemy case.
The lawyer claimed that Hamdan and Ma'ruf had given the police the same stock answers in the interview.
"They even said the same mistakes. Hamdan was simply parroting Ma’ruf, his chairman. Hamdan is not an independent witness," Humphrey said.
"We objected to his presence in the court and provided notes to the judges on what he said," he added.
Ahok’s lawyers did not ask any question to the expert witness from MUI.
"Asking him questions would've been tantamount to acknowledging that he was an expert witness. We didn't ask him any. We rejected his statement and filed several points of consideration for the judges," Humphrey said.