Police on Thursday (06/04) requested the postponement of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s blasphemy trial scheduled for next Tuesday due to security concerns ahead of the April 19 gubernatorial run-off election.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan said in an official letter to the North Jakarta District Court that next Tuesday’s hearing should be rescheduled until after the election.
The request was made to ensure security in the capital ahead of the high-tension run-off election, which will pit Governor Ahok with rival Anies Baswedan, a former education minister.
Police will also stop all criminal investigations against Anies and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, the letter said.
Anies was reported to police for alleged defamation earlier this week by a group of Ahok supporters after he reportedly claimed “Ahok’s city administration will evict residents from more than 300 areas in Jakarta” during a campaign event.
Meanwhile, Sandiaga is being investigated for alleged embezzlement in a Rp 7 billion ($527,000) land purchase deal in 2012.
“It’s normal for the police to write a letter to the court to highlight security concerns before a trial,” Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Argo Yuwono told reporters at the Jakarta Police headquarters.
“Our concern is with the timing of the hearing. It’s too close to the ‘silent period’ before the election and the election day itself. As much as possible we want to avoid crowds of people in public areas,” he added.
North Jakarta District Court spokesman Hasoloan Sianturi said the police’s request will be discussed in an official hearing with judges in the blasphemy trial.
Prosecutors are due to deliver their sentence demand against Ahok on Tuesday — the eighteenth session of the long-running blasphemy trial.
According to Indonesian law, if the prosecutors demand a jail term of more than five years for Ahok, the Home Affairs Ministry is allowed to dismiss him from his post as governor.