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Indonesian rape victim may be caned in public

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — An Indonesian woman who was gang-raped by men accusing her of having extramarital sex may be caned publicly for violating Islamic law, an official said Wednesday.

The 25-year-old widow said she was raped by eight men who allegedly found her with a married man in her house. The men reportedly beat the man, doused the two with sewage, and then turned them over to Islamic police in conservative Aceh province.

The alleged attack occurred early Thursday in Lhokbani, a village in East Aceh district.

The head of Islamic Shariah law in the district, Ibrahim Latief, said his office has recommended the widow and the married man be caned nine times for violating religious law, pending an investigation. Its preliminary finding was that the two were about to have sex at that time, but Latief contended they violated Shariah law by being in the same room together. He said they also admitted they had sex earlier.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people, has a policy of secularism but allows Aceh, a predominantly Muslim province on the northern tip of Sumatra, to implement a version of Sharia Islamic law.

Police have arrested three of the eight men and are hunting for the others.

East Aceh police chief Lt. Col. Hariadi said those arrested are being questioned on charges of rape. One of the accused is a 13-year-old boy, who would be charged as an adult but prosecuted in a closed-door trial.

Latief said the eight could be caned for raping the woman, but “it will be too lenient if they just received the same punishment of nine strokes.”

The criminal charge of rape carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.

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