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Indonesia reduces prison sentences for 9,000 Christians

Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (L), popularly known as Ahok, speaks to his lawyers after his sentencing during the guilty verdict in his blasphemy trial in Jakarta on May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Bay Ismoyo/Pool – RTS15RI0

Indonesia has handed Christmas presents to more than 9,000 Christian prisoners in the form of reduced sentences, in compliance with the country’s policy on sentence remissions on Independence Day and major religious events.

On Christmas Day, 9,333 Christian prisoners received reductions from their sentences because of their good conduct. Jakarta’s former Christian governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, one of those who benefited from the policy, received a 15-day reduction from his jail sentence, Free Malaysia Today reported, according to Christian Daily.

“The sentence remissions range from 15 days to two months,” said corrections official Sri Puguh Budi Utami. “It depends on how much of their sentence the prisoners have served.”

In addition, Utami explained that inmates who have served at least six months in jail are the ones qualified for the sentence reduction. The ministry uses this policy to address the problem of overcrowding in prison facilities.

“The sentence remission for 9,333 convicts, will potentially save the state Rp3.8 billion (RM1.15 million),” Utami added.

Meanwhile, Ahok gave his Christmas and New Year greetings to people from behind bars at the National Police’s Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters in Depok, West Java. The former Christian governor wrote a letter conveying his hope for God’s blessings, good health, peace of mind, and joy for the people, The Jakarta Post relayed.

Aside from that, Ahok’s letter urged people to “love selflessly.” He added that humans were made in God’s likeness and that love is the foundation of being human.

Ahok, who was thrown in jail earlier this year after he was convicted for blasphemy, spent his first Christmas in custody. His holiday greetings were posted by his legal team on his official Instagram account.

On Dec. 24, Ahok’s younger sister and lawyer, Fifi Lety Indra, visited him in jail. She revealed at the time that the former Jakarta governor’s Christmas would be spent with his wife and children.

By Agencies.

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