Buni Yani filing for stay of execution as 18-month prison sentence set to begin tomorrow

A screenshot of the infamous anti-Ahok Facebook post, featuring an out-of-context video clip and inaccurate transcript. Posted by Buni Yani in October 2016.
A screenshot of the infamous anti-Ahok Facebook post, featuring an out-of-context video clip and inaccurate transcript. Posted by Buni Yani in October 2016.

Buni Yani, the university lecturer best known for instigating the blasphemy case against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “BTP” Tjahaja Purnama, and his lawyers seem to be doing the best they can to delay the execution of his 18-month prison sentence for hate speech.

Buni Yani was convicted and sentenced by the Bandung District Court in November 2017 but has yet to begin serving his sentence, even after the Supreme Court denied his appeal and upheld his sentence in November 2018.

Yesterday, during a solidarity event for fellow hate speech convict and BTP foe Ahmad Dhani at Gerindra headquarters, Buni Yani revealed to the media that the Depok district attorney on Monday summoned him to begin his prison sentence on Friday, Feb 1.

However, he and his lawyers are now filing for a stay of execution because they say that MA’s decision was vague and lacked legal certainty.

“We want some kind of fatwa from MA, it has to be clear first,” Buni Yani’s lawyer Aldwin Rahadian told reporters Wednesday evening, as quoted by Antara.

Aldwin argues that MA’s court documents from the appeal did not specify any judicial order for the Depok district attorney to execute Buni Yani’s sentence, nor was there any specific legal reasoning behind MA’s decision to reject the appeal. The lawyer also said there were other administrative discrepancies in MA’s documents, such as Buni Yani being written down as 48-years-old whereas he’s actually 50.

Furthermore, they are still adamant that Buni Yani is not guilty of the crime he was convicted of.

“To us, the matter is not clear. Pak Buni did not edit those photos, until now [the courts] couldn’t convincingly [prove that],” Aldwin said.

Buni Yani was previously arrested for posting an infamously misleading edited video clip which, as blatantly counterintuitive as it may seem, kick-started BTP’s blasphemy trial and eventual two-year imprisonment.

The Jakarta Metro Police charged Buni Yani with inciting religious hatred in November 2016 in violation of Indonesia’s draconian Information and Electronic Transactions (UU ITE) law, just a week after BTP had been named a suspect for blasphemy.

According to the police, Buni Yani’s fault was that his transcript of BTP’s speech was missing some key words so that it seemed that BTP said the Quran itself deceives people, whereas in actuality BTP said that people use the Quran to deceive others in the full version of his speech. He was found guilty.

While he was appealing his sentence, Buni Yani has not been shy about actively campaigning for President Joko Widodo’s 2019 rival, Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto, who he hopes will be able to keep him out of prison if elected.

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