Aceh Besar-Two couples in staunchly Muslim Aceh were caned in public on Friday for separate acts of indecency.
The first pair, Sudirman, 43, and Irdayanti, 34, each received nine lashes of the cane by the Wilayatul Hisbah, or Shariah Police, for committing adultery. Both are married to other people, though Irdayanti is in the process of divorcing her husband.
A crowd of 200 people gathered outside the Al Munawwarah Mosque in Jantho, Aceh Besar district, to watch the caning shortly after noon prayers.
Sudirman and Irdayanti had been sentenced to the punishment the previous day by the Jantho Shariah Court. Prosecutor Bendry Almy said both were guilty of khalwat, or “close proximity,” under a 2003 Shariah bylaw that carries a maximum punishment of nine strokes of the cane and a minimum of three.
“In their case, the harshest penalty was handed down because both were married at the time they committed the crime,” he said.
Sudirman and Irdayanti were caught together in the latter’s bedroom on Jan. 1 by neighbors. It remains unclear what they were doing.
“Irdayanti was known to frequently invite men into her home,” said Teungku Syarifuddin, deputy commander of the provincial Shariah Police.
“That got the neighbors all riled up, so that night they busted into the house.”
The mob then took the couple to the local police station to be charged.
The second couple caned on Friday was Rudi Setia Yudda, 40, and his alleged mistress, Nuramalia, 18. Rudi was caned seven times while Nuramalia received four strokes.
The two were also accused of close proximity after being found alone in a room together.
Yusuf, head of general crimes at the Jantho Prosecutors’ Office, said that in the incident on Jan. 18, Yusuf had been caught photographing Nuramalia, who was dressed in see-through clothing.
Syarifuddin said that in the ensuing mob arrest, Nuramalia had been molested by several of the men leading the raid.
“The Banda Aceh Police are now investigating the molestation case brought by the woman,” he said.
Friday’s canings were marked by occasional taunts and jeers from onlookers.
“That’s what you get for fooling around,” one person called out as Sudirman and Rudi were being lashed.
Shortly after her caning, Irdayanti passed out and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
None of the four were allowed to consult a lawyer during their trials at the Shariah Court, unlike four district officials caught for gambling in January.
The officials were each sentenced to 11 lashes but have yet to be caned pending appeals mounted by their legal teams.
Shariah law was first implemented in Aceh in August 2003 after an order by then-president Megawati Sukarnoputri granted the province partial autonomy as part of an attempt to ease separatist tensions.
However, the system has been dogged by criticism over perceived double standards heavily in favor of officials over regular citizens. - Jakarta Globe