Indonesia: Ahok blasphemy trial shifted out of central Jakarta over security concerns

The trial will continue on 27 December at the Agriculture Ministry's main hall in South Jakarta

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok", sits on the defendant's chair at the start of his trial hearing at North Jakarta District Court in Jakarta, Indonesi Reuters

The highly controversial blasphemy trial of Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama will be shifted from Central Jakarta Court building to the Agriculture Ministry's main hall in South Jakarta, next week, due to security reasons.

On 22 December, the Supreme Court (MA) also approved the shifting from the current location on Jl. Gajah Mada No 17, central Jakarta, citing serious security threats. "The MA chief justice has agreed to move Ahok's trial venue due to security reasons as recommended by the Jakarta Police and the Jakarta High Prosecutors' Office," said Ridwan Mansyur, the court's spokesperson, according to The Jakarta Post.

It was also reported that the spokesperson informed the new hall, which was used for the trial of former president Soeharto's corruption case, is not only safer than the old one but also more spacious and will be able to accommodate more visitors.

The hall, that also saw the trial of Abu Bakar Ba'syir's terrorism case in 2011, can accommodate up to 200 people, said Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochammad Iriawan. However, Jakarta police will be limiting visitors during the next hearing to ensure a smooth running of the trial.

The trial will resume on 27 December and the judges are expected to announce their decision regarding Ahok's exception that was discussed on 13 December, when the trial began, reported the Jakarta Post.