04/01/2010, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Sultan commutes sentence, Malaysian model Kartika will not be flogged

The sentence of six lashes is replaced by three weeks of community service. The former model was convicted on drinking beer in public; now she will do community work at a children’s centre in Pahang. She tells media that her example should be a warning against drinking alcoholic beverages. Her children are now in her parents’ care.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Kuantan Islamic High Court has commuted Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno’s sentence of six lashes to three weeks of community service. The 33-year-old former model, a mother of two, was convicted for breaking Sharia rules against consuming alcohol. She was caught drinking beer in public at a beach resort.

"The sultan has decided that the caning sentence will be substituted with a three-week community service at a children's home in Pahang from April 2," Ms Kartika's father, Shukarno Mutalib, told the AFP news agency.

In a letter to Katrika, Pahang State Islamic and Malay Culture Council informed her that she would begin her sentence on 2 April and her father would take her to the children’s home.

The former model said she was ready to carry out the community service although the decision came as a surprise.

"I hope this community service will serve as a lesson to others to stay away from alcohol," said the single mother of two. The “children would be left in the care of my parents,” she told Malaysian news agency Bernama.

In December 2007, the former model (pictured here with her children) drank some beer at a public place in the eastern State of Pahang.

Arrested by police, she was indicted on violating Sharia rules.

Under Islamic law, Muslims caught consuming alcohol can be flogged and get up to three years in prison. In most cases however, the accused is usually charged an administrative fine.  

Last July, the Islamic courts sentenced Kartika to one week in prison, a 5,000 ringgit (US$ 1,500) fine and six lashes. The authorities pointed out that the stick used to beat the woman would be lighter than that used for men, because the goal is to educate rather than punish. The woman did not oppose the decision and asked it be carried out in public.

Malaysia has a dual legal system, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims. The lives of the first group are regulated by Sharia whereas the latter are subject to civil law. Non-Muslims can for example drink alcoholic beverages in public.

Only three Malaysian States, Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan, punish alcohol consumption with flogging. The other ten states impose fines.

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