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Ahok named suspect in blasphemy case

Jakarta | Wed, November 16, 2016 |

After weeks of investigations, the National Police finally named incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case, a move that may jeopardize the gubernatorial candidate’s efforts to seek reelection.

The police said they made the decision after learning the outcome of a case screening on Tuesday regarding allegations against Ahok.

“Although there are different opinions among police investigators, most agreed that the case should be settled in an open trial,” the head of the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim), Comr. Gen. Ari Dono, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Ari said the police had also barred Ahok from traveling overseas but did not mention whether they would detain him during the case investigation.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent in the predominantly Muslim country, sparked uproar among Muslim groups after he made a comment on verses in the Quran during a visit to Thousand Islands regency in late September. The police have so far received around a dozen reports regarding the case.

On Nov. 4, over 100,000 people, mostly from various Muslim groups, swarmed onto Jakarta’s streets to demand Ahok’s prosecution for alleged blasphemy.

On Tuesday, investigators from Bareskrim heard testimony from dozens of witnesses and experts during a 10-hour closed-door case screening.

Previously, a number of Muslim figures had accused law enforcers of protecting the governor. Ahok, who previously served as deputy Jakarta governor, replaced his former boss, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, after the latter won the presidential election in 2014.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, however, has strongly denied the accusations and said the police would continue the legal process. (JP)

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