Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 17:36 UK

Malaysia upholds woman's caning

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor (C) with her parents in Karai, north of Kuala Lumpur, 22 August
Kartika Sari Dewa Shukarnor, seen with her parents, is a former model

An Islamic court in Malaysia has upheld a sentence of six strokes of the cane handed to a Muslim woman who was caught drinking beer in public.

The court appeals panel in Pahang state ruled the sentence on 32-year-old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor was just.

No date was set for the caning, but if it goes ahead, Shukarnor will be the first Malaysian woman to be caned.

The case has caused controversy in Malaysia, where Muslims are subject to Islamic law in personal matters.

While drinking alcohol is forbidden for Muslims, prosecutions are rare.

Analysts say the government fears that the punishment could damage Malaysia's reputation abroad.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, a mother of two, was arrested for drinking beer in a beachfront hotel in December 2007.

She previously asked that her punishment be carried out in public, triggering a debate over the use of Islamic laws in the moderate Muslim country.

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