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Judicial CP - November 2005

Corpun file 16888

Jakarta Post, 1 November 2005

Six convicted gamblers in Aceh receive public caning

By Nani Afrida
The Jakarta Post
Banda Aceh

Observed by a crowd of hundreds, six convicted gamblers were caned on Monday in front of the Baitul Musyahadah Mosque here.

The public canings were the second such event in Banda Aceh and the seventh in the province, all of which were carried out as punishment for gambling. The first public canings took place in Bireuen regency in June this year.

"The prisoners violated article 5 Qanun (bylaw) No. 13/2003 on maisir (gambling). Each will receive eight to 10 strokes of the cane," prosecutor Saprianto said before the punishment was executed by officials wearing black veils to conceal their identities.

The two men who allegedly organized the gambling were given 10 strokes and the others were given eight.

Seven people, including a 15-year-old Mahyuddin bin Yunus, were apprehended by Banda Aceh Police on the third day of the fasting month of Ramadhan, while gambling in the Jl. Diponegoro area. Evidence used to convict them included a pack of poker cards and Rp 149,000 (US$14.9) in cash.

As a minor, Mahyuddin was not caned but, based on Law No. 3/1997 on child prosecution, he was handed over to his parents in front of the spectators.

The sharia system was implemented in Aceh in 2003, two years after the central government granted special autonomy to the province in order to curb separatist demands.

Before the canings took place, Aceh regional governments had already enforced Muslim dress codes, mandatory prayers five times a day and the giving of alms.

Since then, the province has introduced three Qanun or bylaws on the implementation of the Islamic law, which prohibit maisir, khalwat (sexual relations outside of marriage) and khamar (alcoholic drinks).

Of the three bylaws, the one on gambling has been most frequently violated.

"The essence of the punishment is to make the violators embarrassed. They will not repeat the same offense and it will teach others not to gamble," said Banda Aceh Mayor Mawardi Nurdin.

He said no violators of khalwat or khamar had been found so far. Under the law, a khalwat offender would be stoned to death while a khamar offender would also be caned in public.

The Acehnese have been pushing the authorities to punish embezzlers under sharia.

According to head of the Islamic Law Office, Aliasa' Abubakar, corruption is no different to stealing, which under sharia, is punishable by cutting off a thief's hand.

"But a bylaw (to deal with corruption) has not yet been made," Aliasa' said without elaboration.

Residents, however, are demanding the bylaw be passed, saying the prevailing laws only touch ordinary people.

"Gambling and drinking alcohol are what regular people do. How about corrupt government (officials)?" asked Khaidir, a Banda Aceh resident who watched the public caning.

The public canings in Aceh have caused controversy at home, with human right activists saying the presence of an audience was an unnecessary humiliation as, although other countries like Singapore and Malaysia also used caning as a punishment, it was not done in public.

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