Ex-Aceh rebel negotiator may face caning for dating French worker
(Kyodo) _ A former peace negotiator of the Free Aceh Movement in Indonesia's northernmost Aceh Province may face caning for violating the Islamic Sharia law applied by the region by dating a French aid worker, a local police chief said Wednesday.
Zulkarnaen, police chief in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, told Kyodo News that Amni bin Ahmad Marzuki, 34, and Pilar Chevenaux, 24, were caught by residents in Ulee Kareng, a district in Banda Aceh popular among international aid workers.
Ahmad Marzuki is representative of the movement, locally known as GAM, in the European Union-led Aceh Monitoring Mission.
"Local residents apprehended them inside a car of the mission parked on a street in the district at 1 a.m. Tuesday when they were making love," Zulkarnaen said.
"The woman was almost naked when the residents caught them," he added. Chevenaux told the police she works for London-based CARE International. Staff of the humanitarian organization, however, has not been able to be reached for comment.
With the authorization of officers of Wilayatul Hisbah, a body that monitors the implementation of Sharia in Aceh, the residents handed over Ahmad Marzuki and Chevenaux to the Banda Aceh police, where they are now under custody.
According to Zulkarnaen, if found guilty by the Sharia Court, Ahmad Marzuki could be caned for having extramarital sex, which is prohibited under Sharia.
"His trial will take place Friday during which, if he is found guilty, the judicial panel will decide the time of the caning and how many times he will be caned," the police chief said.
Chevenaux may escape from Sharia because she is not a Muslim. Sharia is only applied for Muslims. However, she can be charged for committing a "sexual crime" under the country's Criminal Code, which carries up to 32 months in jail.
Aceh, as well as a few other districts in Indonesia, enforces Sharia.
Aceh imposes the strictest regulations on petty offenses such as gambling, drinking alcohol or having extramarital sex, having caning as punishment.
Ahmad Marzuki was one of GAM's peace negotiators in 2002 when the Geneva-based Henry Dunant Center tried to mediate peace talks between the Indonesian government and GAM, which had been fighting for independence since 1976.
In 2003, along with other GAM peace negotiators, he was arrested after then President Megawati Sukarnoputri imposed a martial law in Aceh following a failed peace negotiation mediated by the United States, the European Union and Japan in Tokyo.
The administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono released him last year after the government and GAM reached a peace deal Aug. 15 in Helsinki.
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