Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The North Jakarta District Court's decision to sentence Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to two years' imprisonment is irregular because the sentence is longer than that demanded by prosecutors, rights group Setara Institute has said.
Ahok was initially charged under Article 156a of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on blasphemy and Article 156 of the KUHP on defaming clergymen. Prosecutors, however, later dropped the blasphemy charge and demanded that Ahok be sentenced to two years' probation and one year in prison if he reoffended.
"Judges are indeed independent but they must base verdicts on facts and evidence. The weak evidence presented by prosecutors should have been able to convince the judges to hand down a lighter sentence than that demanded by prosecutors," Setara chairman Hendari said in a statement.
"The verdict has proved the blasphemy article is prone to misuse by certain parties," he added.
Hendari said the judges seemed to have been working under pressure amid the waves of protesters demanding Ahok be imprisoned. "It was a trial by the mob, which is actually against the rule of law."
He also said the judicial system seemed to be influenced by public pressure. "In legal principle, if judges hesitate in deciding something, they should choose the most favorable option for the defendants," Hendardi said. (bbs)