INDONESIA’S Supreme Court has rejected former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s appeal to review his jail sentence for blasphemy.
A spokesman for the court on Monday said that the politician will have to serve his full sentence. “All the reasons for the appeal put forward by Ahok’s team were rejected by the judge,” he said, declining to explain the court’s reasoning further.
Ethnic Chinese and a Christian, the former governor was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in May 2017 for allegedly insulting Islam after losing a religiously-charged election campaign for the Jakarta governorship.
The charges were in regards to a doctored and incorrectly subtitled video spread on social media that appeared to show him insulting the Koran.
At the time, Ahok was popular and looked set for re-election to govern the capital of a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. But Islamists led mass rallies calling for him to be unseated and hardline groups urged voters to elect a Muslim rival instead.
According to a Jakarta Post opinion piece from January, however, “Ahok still has a chance to make a political comeback. And given the possible change in behavior as a result of a generational shift among Indonesian voters, Ahok could outdo many of his rivals.”
Some nine months after being jailed, Ahok’s legal team filed an appeal last month.
The person who doctored the video was imprisoned for 18 months late last year when a court found him guilty of violating information technology laws and Ahok’s lawyers tried to use this to argue his conviction was flawed.
Additional reporting from Reuters.