Indonesia frees 10 suspected of provoking Jakarta chaos

Demonstrators held after violence followed mass protest outside presidential palace let go due to insufficient evidence

Indonesia frees 10 suspected of provoking Jakarta chaos

World Bulletin / News Desk

Indonesian police have freed ten people arrested on suspicion of provoking the violence that saw a huge initially passive demonstration against a Christian governor accused of insulting Islam descend into chaos.

However, another 13 people arrested in the violence that broke out around the capital following the 100,000 strong march remain in custody, according to Jakarta police spokesperson Commissioner Awi Setiyono.

Setiyono told a press conference Sunday that the demonstrators held had undergone a "marathon" interrogation process following the Friday protest, but they had been let go due to insufficient evidence.

"Seven people were decided not to have committed criminal acts. Three others appeared to commit it, but the evidence was not enough, so all ten have been sent home," Setiyono was quoted as saying by detik.com.

Those still being held are charged with taking advantage of the situation to damage and loot several minimarkets.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian promised Saturday that the investigation into the alleged incident that sparked the march and subsequent anger will be open and transparent.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is accused of publicly insulting Islam, however he says he was calling for people not to be “deceived” by those using a Quranic verse, Al Maidah: Chapter 51, not that the verse itself was insulting.

He said that external parties would be invited to supervise the process and the "case expose" would be broadcast live on national television.

"Our investigator will invite external parties from the attorney general's office and the national police commission to oversee the police," Karnavian said at the presidential office on Saturday night, as quoted by kompas.com.

"By involving stakeholders and the public on live broadcast media, we hope that they will be able to judge the case clearly."

Friday's enormous march culminated in the government and protest leaders agreeing to speed up the probe into the alleged blasphemy, saying it would be solved within two weeks.

Karnavian said that police had received at least ten reports accusing Ahok of abusing Islam during his visit to the Thousand Islands region in Jakarta at the end of September.

A wave of demonstrations demanding the acceleration of legal proceedings against Ahok -- a Christian of Chinese ethnic background -- subsequently occurred in several regions, peaking in Friday's protest.

Around 100,000 people -- many of them clad solely in white, brandishing the flags of Islamic organizations -- gathered at the site outside the presidential palace, but most had peacefully left after leaders appeared to meet agreement with the vice president.

However, some protesters -- angry that their representatives could not meet President Joko Widodo -- started to throw stones and bottles at police after their representatives left the State Palace meeting.

Police were forced to fire tear gas and water cannon after protesters chanted "war" and "revolution" and broke through barricades in front of the palace.

Disturbances continued to break out over the course of the evening around Jakarta, some outside of Ahok's accommodation.

On Sunday, Widodo asked political and religious leaders to help cool tensions.

"In the coming week, we will invite political figures and religious leaders to give input into how we can cool the situation down," detik.com quoted him as saying during a teleconference to Indonesians in Australia.

Indonesia's president was forced to delay a much-anticipated Nov. 6-8 visit to the region following Friday's violence.

Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2016, 12:51
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