Asia Former Jakarta governor requests case review

Former Jakarta governor requests case review

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Judges made mistake in Ahok’s case: Lawyer Former Jakarta governor

His defense lawyers say prosecuting judges made ‘mistakes’ in handing down the sentence

Nine months after being found guilty of blasphemy, former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has officially challenged his conviction through a case review petition to the Supreme Court.

In a 10-minute preliminary hearing of the petition on Monday, judges stated through Ahok’s lawyers that they believed the North Jakarta District Court had made a mistake in declaring him guilty. 

“We found a few errors in their judgement. For one, they never took into consideration the statements put forth by the defendant’s expert witnesses,” one of Ahok’s lawyers, Josefina Agatha, said.

A heavy security presence surrounded the area around the North Jakarta District court on Monday morning, including military personnel. Supporters of Ahok came to the court dressed in red clothes, while his detractors came in white.

The Indonesian capital Jakarta saw a series of rallies by conservative groups last year who demanded that Ahok be jailed following his allegedly blasphemous comments.

A video uploaded on YouTube showed him warning Jakarta residents of “being deceived” by other people “using al-Maidah 51”, a Quranic verse that prohibits Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader.

He was charged with blasphemy under Article 156a of the Criminal Code and later convicted and sentenced to two years in prison in May.

Ahok’s lawyers argue that the guilty verdict against Buni Yani, a university lecturer found guilty of unfairly editing the widely-circulated video footage, forms the basis for the case review request.

Prosecutor Sapto Subroto, however, denies any relation between the two cases.

“Ahok was guilty of blasphemy, while Buni Yani was guilty of tampering with a video that was not his,” he said, reaffirming that the district court’s verdict on Ahok was correct.

Prosecutors said that the defense team did not have new evidence to back up their request for review.

However, prosecutors still have up to three days to submit their response before the case review petition is sent to the Supreme Court.