Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A panel of judges of the North Jakarta District Court found Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced him to two years in jail here, Tuesday.

In response to the verdict of the panel of judges, headed by Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, Ahok and his team of lawyers said they will prepare an appeal against the courts decision.

The courts decision differs from the prosecutors demand that the court sentence Ahok to one year in prison and place him on probation for two years over blasphemy charges.

Several thousand anti- and pro-Ahok demonstrators still gathered outside the court where the blasphemy trial was taking place at the Agriculture Ministry, though Santiarto had ended the court proceeding.

The two groups of demonstrators were separated by the police to maintain law and order. However, several supporters of Ahok who had joined the rally were in tears after hearing the courts decision.

On last Friday, the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Councils Fatwa leader Bachtiar Nasir had urged Muslims participating in a massive rally to accept whatever verdict the panel of judges reach.

Bachtiar said in the verdict that if the North Jakarta District Courts judges failed to meet the demonstrators demand, the almighty Allahs court would be the fairest one.

"Everyone must be ready to accept almighty Allahs decision if Ahoks blasphemy trial fails to meet a just and fair verdict," he noted.

With regard to his case, Ahok defended himself by claiming there was no evidence that he had insulted Islam or had undermined adherents of a particular religion during his 19th blasphemy trial on April 25, 2017.

"I do believe that the panel of judges will consider all facts and legal evidence presented during these trials in which the prosecutors have also admitted and verified that I did not make slanderous statements against a religion as alleged," he stated while reading his defense plea.

Ahoks blasphemy trial began on December 13, 2016. The 50-year-old Jakarta governor had been accused of blasphemy against the Islamic Holy Book of Al Quran when he gave a speech in the Seribu Islands, northern Jakarta, last September.

During his speech, Ahok said the voters had been lied to by those citing sura Al Maida verse 51 of the Al Quran.

Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Indonesia and is punishable with up to five years in prison.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2017