Jakarta: Court to proceed with Purnama blasphemy trial

Judges reject call to strike down case against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian accused of insulting the Quran.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok", enters the courtroom before his trial hearing at North Jakarta District Court in Jakarta
Purnama denied the charges against him in a December 13 court hearing [Tatan Syuflana/Reuters]

An Indonesian court will proceed with a controversial blasphemy case against Jakarta’s Christian governor, who is accused of insulting the Quran, a judge said.

A panel of judges on Tuesday rejected a call by lawyers defending Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to strike down the case because it had violated the ethnic Chinese politician’s human rights and breached procedures.

“The exception by the defendant will be considered and decided by the court after examination of all evidence. The defendant’s exception is not accepted,” said Judge Abdul Rosyad.

READ MORE: Indonesians rally against Purnama over blasphemy claims

A tearful Purnama denied the charges in the first hearing on December 13. The case is seen as a test of religious freedom in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, ignited a storm of criticism in September when he controversially quoted a Quranic verse while campaigning in elections for the Jakarta governorship.

He is running for re-election against two Muslim candidates.

He could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty of breaking Indonesia’s tough blasphemy laws.

Source: News Agencies