JAKARTA: Supporters of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, clashed briefly with protesters on Tuesday morning (Jan 3) outside the Agriculture Ministry, as the governor's blasphemy trial resumes.
Previous sessions were held at a district court but Tuesday's trial was moved to the Agriculture Ministry in south Jakarta for security reasons. Around 2,500 police officers were deployed in anticipation of any trouble surrounding the highly-charged trial.
Ahok's supporters have already vowed to hold demonstrations on all the remaining days of the trial, to make their voices heard for a fair verdict.
2,500 police personnel deployed outside the auditorium of the Agriculture Ministry to secure Ahok's trial today pic.twitter.com/zramTEUJ7n— Saifulbahri Ismail (@saifulCNA) January 3, 2017
The blasphemy trial entered the witness examination stage on Tuesday.
Ahok, Jakarta's first non-Muslim governor in 50 years, stands accused of insulting the Quran during his re-election campaign. The offence carries a five-year jail term.
Judges had ruled last month that the blasphemy trial should proceed, rejecting a call by lawyers to strike down the case on the grounds that procedures were breached and that it violated the ethnic Chinese governor's human rights.
The governor was named a suspect after hundreds of thousands of people, led by Muslim hardliners, attended rallies in recent months calling for his arrest.
He has maintained his innocence, saying that he never intended to offend anyone. "I know I have to respect the holy verses of the Quran. I do not understand how I can be said to have offended Islam," he said when facing the court for the first time last month.
President Joko Widodo, seen as an ally of Ahok, has blamed "political actors" for fuelling the protests, but declined to elaborate.