Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Appeals court upholds Malaysia woman’s caning for drinking beer

A Malaysian First, a Najib first, an UMNO first.

Posted: 05:44 AM ET

(CNN) — An appeals court has upheld the caning sentence of a Malaysian woman for drinking beer in public.

The Sharia, or Islamic, court did not set a date for the flogging, the Bernama national news agency said Tuesday.

If carried out, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno will become the first woman to be flogged in the southeast Asian country for drinking alcohol out in the open.
Kartika has said all along that she wants the sentence to be carried out, even as the country’s new Prime Minister Najib Razak asked her not to willingly accept it.

The case was automatically sent up for an appeal. The court made its ruling Monday, Bernama said.

Kartika was scheduled to undergo the caning in late August, but Malaysian authorities abruptly postponed it until the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Her case — which stems from a 2007 incident in which she publicly drank a beer — has attracted international media attention. There are concerns that if the sentence is carried out, it could tarnish the image of the moderate Muslim nation.

Najib, the prime minister, said the government could not question religious matters because they are under the authority of the Syariah (Sharia) Court.
Malaysia has a dual-track justice system, in which Islamic courts operate alongside civil courts.

An Islamic, or sharia, court in the eastern state of Pahang had fined Kartika — a Muslim — $1,400 (5,000 Malaysian ringgit) and sentenced her to six strokes with a rattan cane for drinking at a hotel bar two years ago.

Kartika, a 32-year-old part-time model and mother of two, was visiting Malaysia from Singapore at the time.

She pleaded guilty, paid the fine, and wanted her caning to be carried out in public.

She said she lost her job as a nurse in Singapore and took up part-time modeling to support her husband in raising their two children. Her son has cerebral palsy; her daughter a heart condition.

Muslims — who make up about 60 percent of the 28 million who populate the country — are forbidden from consuming alcohol. Other religious groups are exempt.

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