Indonesia's Aceh considers beheading as penalty for murder

FILE- In this Tuesday, May 23, 2017 file photo, a Shariah law official whips a man convicted of gay sex during a public caning outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province Indonesia. The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh known for publicly caning gays, adulterers and gamblers is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, a top Sharia law official said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Heri Juanda, File)

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh known for publicly caning gays, adulterers and gamblers is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, a top Islamic law official said Wednesday.

Syukri M. Yusuf, the head of Aceh's Shariah Law and Human Rights Office, said the provincial government has asked his office to research beheading as a method of execution under Islamic law and to consult public opinion.

"Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect. A strict punishment is made to save human beings," Yusuf told reporters. "We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed."

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2001 as part of efforts to end a decades-long war for independence.

Its implementation has become increasingly harsh and now also applies to non-Muslims. Last year, the province for the first time caned two men for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and handed them over to religious police.

Yusuf said if Shariah law is consistently applied, then crime, particularly murder, will decrease significantly or disappear.

He said punishment for murderers has in practice been "relatively mild" and they could reoffend after release from prison. He pointed to Saudi Arabia as an example to follow in practicing severe punishment for murder.

Indonesia has the death penalty for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. Its last executions were in July 2016 when three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted of drug offenses were shot on the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

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This story has been corrected to say the year of Sharia introduction was 2001 not 2005.

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