BANDA ACEH , Indonesia, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A young couple was publicly caned in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, for indecency after they were seen in public together, a police chief said.
University students Wahyudi Saptutra, 23, and Nur Elita, 20, were arrested two months ago for violating the Sharia law of khalwat, or "affectionate contact by an unmarried couple" after being observed alone in a room. A judge sentenced them to caning, police chief Yusnardi, of a unit assigned to finding violators of the strict Sharia law, told Indonesia's Ansara news agency.
Aceh province, on the island of Sumatra, is Indonesia's only province that rigorously enforces Sharia law, which is a legal system based on Islamic religious law. The law was enacted in 2003 after the provincial government obtained special autonomy.
The caning of the couple, and four others convicted of "maisir," or gambling, was witnessed Monday by hundreds of cheering onlookers in the front yard of Banda Aceh's Baiturrahim Mosque. Each received five strokes with a cane. Elita was first, and was carried to a waiting ambulance after her punishment.
Speaking to the crowd, Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Zainal Arifin said, "Take these punishments as a lesson. What has been done by these convicts should not be taken as an example. And I hope their canings in Meuraxa district today will be the last ever. And to the public, I ask that you do not isolate those who have been punished here today. Also, the convicted are reminded not to repeat their mistakes."