Lucks Runs Out for Gamblers Caned Over Card Game

Jantho, Aceh. Three of 21 men caught gambling on cards last month were caned with seven lashes each in public on Friday in Jantho, Aceh Besar district, the second time the punishment has been meted out this year in the deeply Islamic province.

The caning was ordered by the Jantho Shariah Court on Thursday and overseen by the local prosecutors’ office. Two Shariah Police officers delivered the strokes on a stage erected inside the subdistrict’s Al Munawwarah Mosque shortly after Friday prayers. 

The three men, identified as local farmers Mukhtar Rahmadi, 29, Suherman, 32, and Hasbi bin Acek, 45, were caught gambling by police on May 27 with 18 others. 

They claimed they were only playing to pass the time while waiting for a wedding banquet the next day in neighboring Montasik subdistrict. 

The caning drew hundreds of onlookers, one of whom yelled out “Good for you!” as Mukhtar received his lashes. 

He was heard replying: “What’s so good about that?” 

All three declined to speak to the media after the incident, and were promptly driven away in a waiting car. 

Gambling is a corporal offense in staunchly Islamic Aceh, which upholds partial Shariah law. The proscribed punishment, as stipulated in a 2003 Shariah bylaw, is six to 12 lashes with a rattan cane. 

Jantho chief prosecutor Bendry Almy said another man in the case, 41-year-old M Yasin, had also been sentenced to caning by the court, but had been granted a stay of punishment because of a pre-existing medical condition. 

“He had a stomach ailment, something to do with having had his spleen removed,” Bendry said. “The doctors recommended we hold off on whipping him until he feels better.” 

Aceh Besar Police chief of detectives Adj. Comr. Agung Prasetyo said the court had only ordered that four of the 21 men caught gambling be caned because they had bet the highest sums of money. 

“The others were staking Rp 1,000 a hand, but when these four men bet, the combined bet was Rp 3.6 million [$400],” he said. “We let the others go after we’d questioned them, because the Shariah bylaw doesn’t authorize us to arrest anyone.” 

Despite not being allowed to make arrests, Agung declined to say under what authority the four high-rollers were taken into custody. 

Teuku Hasbi, head of the Aceh Besar Shariah Agency, addressing the crowd ahead of the caning, said the punishment needed to be meted out more often if it served as an effective deterrent against similar offenses. 

“Gambling is something that destroys the spirit and destroys families, no matter how you look at it,” he said. 

“No one wins. Those who do only become puffed up and arrogant, while those who lose become depressed or vindictive,” he added. 

He called on the three men about to be lashed to “come to your senses and renounce your crime.” 

“Repent and embrace Allah!” Hasbi said. 

Aceh Besar administration official Zulkifli Ismail, representing the district at the flogging, said authorities had no intention of halting caning as a punishment, despite an outcry from human rights activists. 

“Caning knocks sense into people,” he said. “If we don’t keep doing it, people will keep on flouting our laws.”[]
Lucks Runs Out for Gamblers Caned Over Card Game Lucks Runs Out for Gamblers Caned Over Card Game Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on June 25, 2010 Rating: 5

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