Ex-governor of Jakarta to stay in jail as Indonesia court rejects appeal

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FILE PHOTO: Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, speaks to his lawyers after his sentencing during the guilty verdict in his blasphemy trial in Jakarta

FILE PHOTO: 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/File Photo

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the Christian ex-governor of Jakarta to review his conviction for insulting Islam, a court spokesman said on Monday, so the politician will serve out his two-year sentence.

A lower court jailed Basuki Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy last May after a doctored and incorrectly subtitled video spread on social media that appeared to show him insulting the Koran.

At the time, Purnama, who is popularly known as Ahok, was popular and looked set for re-election to govern the capital of a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. But Islamists led mass rallies calling for him to be unseated and hardline groups urged voters to elect a Muslim rival instead.

Purnama lost the election, was jailed and filed for a judicial review of his case last month.

"All the reasons for the appeal put forward by Ahok's team were rejected by the judge," said court spokesman Suhadi. He did not explain the court's reasoning further.

The person who doctored the video was imprisoned for 18 months late last year when a court found him guilty of violating information technology laws and Purnama's lawyers tried to use this to argue his conviction was flawed.

Indonesia is a secular state with a Muslim majority and several religious minorities but the case of Purnama, who is ethnic Chinese, and the rise of hardline Muslim groups casts doubt on the country's reputation for tolerance and diversity.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)