Corpun file 22068
News24.com, South Africa, 18 February 2010
Tongan teens appeal flogging
Nuku'Alofa - Two Tongan teenagers who escaped
from prison and stole food and other goods while on the run have
appealed a court ruling ordering them to be whipped, with
supporters calling the punishment inhumane and a form of torture.
Click to enlarge
Supreme Court judge Robert Shuster sentenced each boy to 13 years
in prison and six lashes from a "cat-o-nine-tails" whip
at a hearing last November that has only just come to light.
The ruling has prompted protests from Tonga's Law Society and
others who say it is a brutal and archaic form of punishment that
has not been used in decades.
Law Society president Laki Niu said flogging is barbaric, even if
it is a deterrent.
"I think it is inhumane. I think it is a form of
torture," he told New Zealand's TVOne News on Wednesday.
Niu described the cat-o-nine-tails as a
knotted whip with nine strands that are soaked in water
overnight. The prisoner is then held down by guards and whipped
across the buttocks with great force, he said.
Niu said that the punishment is so intense that it is often hard
for the prisoner to remain conscious.
Former police officer Kei Iongi, who whipped two men decades ago,
admits they suffered greatly. A doctor halted one whipping, but
Iongi believes it is an effective punishment.
"I think it's good punishment for the Tongan men,"
Iongi told TVOne.
Under Tongan law, the South Pacific nation's Cabinet has to
approve a whipping sentence, which would then be carried out by
Prime Minister Feleti Sevele said he would not discuss the case
because it was still before the court.
Both boys had long records of petty criminal offenses before
their prison breakout. - AP
Follow-up: 14 July 2010 - Tonga overturns flogging sentence
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Country files: Judicial CP in Tonga