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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 10:47 UK

Malaysia delays caning beer woman

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor is greeted by her father at their family home in Karai, Malaysia, after her caning is delayed - 24 August 2009
Ms Kartika had requested that her caning take place in public

The caning of a Malaysian woman for drinking beer has been delayed until after Ramadan, officials have said.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor pleaded guilty to the offence under Malaysia's Islamic law and was to have received six strokes of a rattan cane this week.

She will be the first woman in Malaysia to be punished in such a way, but has not appealed against her sentence.

Malaysia's majority Malays are subject to Islamic laws, while the large Chinese and Indian minorities are not.

Confusion

A van picked her up from her northern Malaysian home on Monday, to put her in detention so that she could be caned sometime this week.

But an official in charge of religious affairs, Mohamad Sahfri Abdul Aziz, intervened at the last minute, reportedly for compassionate reasons on the advice of the attorney general.

It was initially reported that her sentence had been overturned and Ms Kartika would not be caned.

The caning is now to be carried out around mid-September after Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, ends.

There has also been confusion about Malaysia's rules governing the conditions of caning.

Prison rules require anyone who is to be caned to be in detention first.

But legal experts had said at the weekend that it was not right to detain Ms Kartika as she had not been given a jail sentence by the Islamic court.

Ms Kartika, a 32-year old trained nurse and mother of two, asked last week that her caning be administered in public.

She had told reporters she was calm about the prospect and was willing to be caned because she respected the law.

Islamic authorities claim that the purpose of the caning is to educate rather than punish.

Amnesty International had urged authorities to revoke the sentence and abolish the practice of caning.



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