Indonesian Christian To Be Retried For Khalwat In Shariah Court

The Shariah Court of Appeal has ordered an Indonesian Christian to be retried for khalwat, striking off an earlier conviction by Islamic courts here.

Counsel for the Indonesian woman said the retrial will allow him to prove to the court that his client is Christian and not subject to Islamic law. Halimah, 42, was charged and convicted for being in close proximity with a man not her husband or relative — an offence under Islamic law and enforceable exclusively on Muslims.

"The retrial date is yet to be set so we will try to find out from the prosecution," her counsel, Wan Faridulhadi Mohamed Yusof, said.

Wan Faridulhadi, who wasn't aware of the June 5 decision until today, said the prosecution will be requesting a date for the retrial.

"A retrial of the case means she will be able to present to the court that she is not Muslim but a Christian," he said.

He added that this time, the charge against Halimah will be read out in full and translated for her so that she can understand it.

Halimah, a Christian, was convicted of committing khalwat at a reflexology centre at Jalan Seang Teik at 11.40am on December 8, 2011.

The reflexologist, who was born a Christian and has never converted to Islam, pleaded guilty to the charge before the Penang Shariah Court in May due to confusion over the meaning of the offence.

She did not have legal representation at the time. She was subsequently sentenced to jail for 14 months and fined RM3,000 but was allowed a stay of execution pending an appeal.

Wan Faridulhadi submitted her appeal to the Penang Shariah High Cour which upheld the lower court’s decision. The case then went to the Shariah Court of Appeal.

Halimah’s counsel submitted that she is Christian and therefore should not have been charged in the Shariah court in which has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

Halimah’s counsel submitted her baptism certificate, a confirmation from the Indonesian Embassy that she is Christian and also a family charter that showed all her family members are Christian.

According to Cecil Rajendra, who is watching brief in the case, the Indonesian Consul General Ronald P.Manik wrote to the Shariah Court of Appeal to request for updates on the progress of the case in April.

"Manik emphasised that Halimah is a Catholic and does not fall under the Shariah court's jurisdiction," he said.

In his letter, Manik requested that the case against her be reviewed and withdrawn.

The Shariah Court of Appeal replied to the consul general's letter on June 11 with a copy of the decision to strike off the appeal and conviction with an order for a retrial.


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