Too late for Malaysian ex-model to appeal against caning
Kuala Lumpur: Former model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who was to be caned after she drank beer in public, cannot file an appeal against the sentence as the 14-day period for her to do so has expired.
It is now up to Syariah Chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman, who is also the state Syariah Court of Appeal chief judge, to revise the July 20 decision of the Syariah High Court judge.
Chief Judge Rahman heads the judicial machinery under the Islamic law applicable to the majority Malay Muslims.
The state religious department (Jaip) said it will not appeal against the high court verdict and under the law, no other party can appeal on behalf of Kartika, New Straits Times said on Thursday.
This creates a new obstacle for Malaysian authorities who are keen to avoid Kartika becoming the first woman to be caned as it could affect Malaysia's image as a moderate multi-religious society.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak suggested last Monday that Kartika should appeal against the verdict and the authorities could consider it.
Kartika, 32, was fined and sentenced to six strokes of the rotan by the Syariah High Court here after she pleaded guilty to drinking beer at a nightclub in Cherating in 2007.
The part-time model settled the fine but refused to appeal, saying she was ready to be caned.
Jaip had obtained a warrant to detain Kartika at the Kajang women's prison for a week, starting from Monday, to enable the caning to be carried out.
However, it was postponed following advice from Rahman and the Attorney-General's office.
Pahang religious officers were taking Kartika to the Kajang Prison for her to undergo her punishment when the van made a U-turn after a short distance and took her back home.
They told Shukarno that the punishment could not be carried out due to orders from the higher authorities.
Kartika's case has hit international headlines.
Her father, Shukarno Abdul Mutalib on Wednesday said he was "relieved" to see that his daughter's behaviour has "changed for the better" ever since the whipping sentence imposed on her was highlighted by the local and international media, The Star reported.
In the past, Kartika would weep constantly and insist that she be whipped for her wrongdoings but now she appeared to be calmer, he said.
Meanwhile, Kelantan state's Mentri Besar (Chief Minister) Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has expressed discontent over the manner in which the case was handled.
He said that while he did not want to comment on the decision of the court, he was disappointed at the authorities' indecisiveness in carrying out their duties.
"One moment, they want to carry out the caning sentence and the next moment, she is sent home.
"All this will destabilise the court," Nik Abdul Aziz told reporters after chairing the exco (cabinet) meeting on Wednesday.