Kuala Simpang Shari'a Court Decision No. 38 of 2015: Gambling

The prosecution submitted that, on 14 December 2015 at around 10.00pm, the five co-accused were found playing joker card games with each other for money. This, the prosecution maintained, contravened art 18 Aceh Qanun No. 6 of 2014 on Criminal Law.

The court referred to the definition of 'gambling' (maisir), as contained in art 1(22) of Aceh Qanun No. 6 of 2014, which defines gambling as conduct containing the placing of bets and/or taking a chance between two or more parties, accompanied by an agreement that the party who wins will obtain a certain payment/profit from the losing party either directly or indirectly. The court, citing Surah Al-Baqarah verse 219, and Surah Al-Maidah verses 90 and 91, also noted that gambling is forbidden according to Islamic law.

The court discussed the application of Islamic law with regards to the first of the five co-accused, who was Christian, not Muslim. The court acknowledged that as the first co-accused had already expressed in her written statement to the court that she had voluntarily submitted to Islamic law, the requirements contained in art 94 of Aceh Qanun No. 7 of 2013 on Criminal Procedure, and art 5(b) of Aceh Qanun No. 6 of 2014 on Criminal Law, that non-Muslims must first voluntarily submit to Islamic law, had been met.

The court also noted that the qanun offered alternative punishments, those being imprisonment, a fine, or caning, and that the prosecution sought caning. The court reasoned that the five co-accused's punishment should be punitive in nature, rather than retributive, and that it should not affect their dignity (martabat). Rather, that it should be pedagogical in nature, encourage the co-accused not to re-offend, and be a lesson for the broader community (tadabbur).

In sentencing each of the five co-accused to nine strokes of the cane, the court took into consideration the time the five co-accused had already spent in prison, as required by art 23(2) of Aceh Qanun No. 7 of 2013, which considers 30 days in prison akin to one stroke of the cane. The court also ruled that, pursuant to art 214(1) of Aceh Qanun No. 7 of 2013, as the five co-accused were at fault they would bear court costs.

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