Malaysia beer-drinking model 'escapes caning'



Malaysia beer-drinking model `escapes caning` Kuala Lumpur: A model who faced caning under Malaysia's strict Sharia law for drinking beer has had her sentence reduced to community service, her lawyer said on Thursday.

33-year-old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was sentenced last year to six lashes and a fine by a religious court in the Muslim-majority country, sparking an outrage among human rights groups.

Shukarnor’s caning sentence has been commuted by the Sultan of Pahang, a day before she was due to surrender herself to the state’s Islamic authorities.

Kartika’s lawyer, Adham Jamalullail, said she received a letter yesterday informing her that the Sultan had decided to spare her from the caning sentence. Instead, she has been "ordered to perform community service for three weeks," he was quoted as saying by Malaysian Insider, an online newspaper.

The part-time model and mother-of-two was supposed to be caned six times last August for a 2008 offence of consuming beer, but it was called off at the last minute.

She would have been the fourth woman to be caned under Islamic law in Malaysia. The lashing in February of three women, who received between four and six strokes of the cane after being convicted of "khalwat" or illicit sex, also caused uproar among rights groups.

She had been detained by the authorities after she was found drinking beer at a resort in the popular Cherating beach on July 11, 2008. She pleaded guilty at the Kuantan Sharia High Court and was fined RM 5,000 and six strokes of the cane.

The caning was due last August but was called off following an uproar over the punishment.

Kartika was granted an audience with the Pahang crown prince, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, at the Pekan royal town last month.

Kartika has repeatedly said she has no intention of appealing the sentence or running away from the "worldly punishment" for her offence.

She had asked that the caning be done in public and has already paid the fine.

Malaysia, a multicultural nation which is also home to large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, has a dual-track legal system and Islamic courts can try Muslims for religious and moral offences, including illicit sex.

PTI