Melbourne: Four Muslim men were today found guilty by an Australian court of whipping an electrician 40 times with a cable, which they said was a punishment under Islamic law for drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Zakaryah Raad, Tolga Cifci, Wassim Fayad, and Cengiz Coskun were convicted of several charges relating to whipping Cristian Martinez, a convert to Islam, in July 2011.
The case is believed to be the first in an Australian court relating to such punishment being meted out under the pretext of sharia, or Islamic law.
According to media reprot, Martinez, 32, was lashed out 40 times with a cable as a punishment under Islamic law for drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Magistrate Brian Maloney told Burwood Local Court that it was an extremely unusual case.
"Until now, assaults occasioned in the course of a religious practice involving the mortification of the flesh have not been before any court in any common law country," he said.
Maloney said that the prosecutors were clear that the case was not about sharia, or about the Islamic faith.
The court heard Martinez drank alcohol and took drugs on July 15 and 16, 2011, before he called Fayad, who had been his spiritual leader, and said he wanted help to get off drugs and make a fresh start.
Christian Martinez, 32, was whipped with an electric cord at his home in Silverwater in Sydney`s west between July 16 and 17 in 2011.
Martinez had asked Fayed for help in getting off illicit drugs he was taking. Fayed had replied, "I`m going to tie you up, OK, and that`s what you need, brother".
Fayed and the other offenders went round to Martinez`s home and Fayed lashed him on the back 40 times as the others held him down.
Martinez pleaded with Fayed for him to stop but Fayed replied he was doing it because he loved him and next time he thought about drinking he would remember the pain.
The offenders then left the premises and Martinez discovered a hard drive used to store CCTV footage in his home had been taken, for which the four men were charged with stealing.
In his judgment, Magistrate Maloney referred to a statement from the imam of the Omar mosque in Auburn, Sheik Omar El Banna, who said the whipping was not sanctioned by the community or any imams or religious leaders.