Blasphemy trial of Jakarta's Governor postponed

Indo Asian News Service

Jakarta, April 11 (IANS) An Indonesian court on Tuesday postponed the blasphemy trial of Jakarta's Christian Governor until the city's April 19 election, as hundreds of Muslim protestors called on the government to suspend him.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of insulting Islam over references to the Quran made during a campaign speech in September.

The trial was postponed until April 20, a day after the Jakarta election runoff in which voters will choose between Ahok and his Muslim rival Anies Baswedan, Efe news reported on Tuesday.

A panel of judges at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday adjourned the blasphemy trial, as public prosecutors were yet to prepare a sentencing recommendation.

"We have tried our best, a week is not enough for us (to prepare the recommendation). We deeply apologise and request for more time to read aloud the sentencing recommendation, but we will not read it out today," public prosecutor Ali Mukartono said.

"We are asking for two more weeks, if we may," he added.

Protestors led by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front gathered in front of the courtroom to demand the Governor's suspension and arrest, according to reports.

"Arrest Ahok as a suspect in a blasphemy case. Equality before the law," read one of the signs held up by protesters.

Jakarta has witnessed several mass protests by hardline Muslims in recent months over the allegedly blasphemous comments by Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

Ahok, Jakarta's first non-Muslim Governor in half a century, had apologised for offending Muslims but claimed that the video circulated containing his remarks was manipulated.