World

Ahok divorces wife for infidelity, gets custody of kids

Court grants him custody of two younger children after judge accepts evidence of love affair between his wife and married businessman

JAKARTA A court granted a divorce request by former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama yesterday on the grounds that there was adequate evidence of infidelity by his wife, Madam Veronica Tan.

The three-judge panel also granted Basuki, popularly known by his Chinese name Ahok, custody of their two younger children.

Presiding Judge Sutaji said they accepted the reasons Basuki put forward - that the marriage is no longer harmonious due to his wife's love affair with Mr Julianto Tio.

Among the evidence submitted by Basuki's lawyers were copies of mobile phone chats between Madam Tan and Mr Tio.

"The conversation between third person Julianto Tio and the petitioner's wife as exhibited by evidence item 6 through item 12 (in the form of photos of chats from a mobile messaging app) reveals a close and special relationship. We deem this evidence as valid," Judge Sutaji said in the verdict.

Madam Tan continued to see Mr Tio despite being told repeatedly to stop the relationship, the presiding judge said, citing witnesses who testified during the course of the trial that began in late January.

Basuki, 51, filed for divorce from Madam Tan, 40, on Jan 8.

They married in 1997 and have three children - Nicholas Sean, 19; Nathania Berniece, 16; and Daud Albeenner, 11.

The former governor will gain custody of Nathania and Daud Albeenner - who are considered minors under Indonesian law because they are under 17 - after he finishes his jail term.

Basuki was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy in May last year.

'DEADLY SEDUCER'

Ms Fifi Lety Indra, Basuki's sister and lawyer in the divorce case, said in January that his decision to end the 20-year-long marriage was due to the affair that Madam Tan had with Mr Tio, a former school friend of Madam Tan's sister.

Reports say Mr Tio is a married businessman. Ms Fifi said the affair lasted seven years.

Describing Mr Tio as a "deadly seducer", she said Basuki exhausted all efforts to keep the family together, including confronting Mr Tio in 2016 to leave his wife alone for the sake of both marriages.

But when confronted, Mr Tio denied having a romantic relationship with Madam Tan and the two remained in contact.

"They allegedly have had relations for the past seven years, and Ahok and his son met Julianto around 2016 to tell him to keep away. That time, Julianto said he was only a good friend," Ms Fifi told reporters then.

"Veronica has fallen victim to Julianto Tio's deadly sweet talk."

Judge Sutaji said Madam Tan used the nick name "Medan Elang" on her mobile phone's contacts to conceal the identity of Mr Tio. Elang is a Bahasa Indonesia wordfor eagle.

COURT & CRIME