Indonesian woman wants khalwat withdrawn, claiming she is a non-Muslim

Indonesian woman wants khalwat withdrawn, claiming she is a non-Muslim
Halimah (right) with her employer Datin Josephine Chan.

Geroge Town- An Indonesian woman convicted for khalwat (close proximity) by a Syariah court two years ago is seeking to have her case dropped and to prove she is a non-Muslim before she is tried for a second time.

Lawyer Wan Faridulhadi Mohd Yusoff said he will be filing a letter of representation on her behalf to the Penang Syarie prosecution chief this week.

"We will be putting in the representation along with documentation proving her religion is Christianity and to have her case withdrawn without having to go for a re-trial," said the lawyer representing the woman known only by her single name Halimah, 42.

Wan Faridulhadi was speaking to reporters yesterday after a three-member panel of judges of the Syariah Court of Appeal led by Syariah Court Chief Justice Ibrahim Lembut affirmed a decision of an earlier panel which had called for a review of Halimah's case.

Halimah, a mother of four from Bandung, had initially pleaded guilty to committing khalwat with a non-Muslim man at the spa where she worked in Jalan Seang Teik here at 11.40am on Dec 8, 2011.

She was at that time unrepresented and being illiterate, she just nodded when the charge was read out to her on Feb 28, 2012.

The lower court sentenced her to a 14-day jail term but allowed a stay of execution pending her appeal, with a bail of RM3,000.

Wan Faridulhadi, who later represented her, appealed against the sentence at the Syariah High Court on Dec 3, 2012.

In Sept 9 last year, the Syariah High Court dismissed her appeal and upheld her conviction and sentence.

Her bail was extended pending another appeal to the Syariah Court of Appeal, which on June 5 struck out Halimah's conviction and the Syariah High Court decision that upheld the verdict.

With that decision, Halimah was directed to go for a re-trial at the same court that sentenced her in 2012.

Halimah's appeal drew media attention as it was believed to be the first case in the country of a non-Muslim woman being convicted for committing khalwat with another non-Muslim.

"We will allow the decision by the earlier panel to stand and let the lower court fix a date for the re-trial," said Justice Ibrahim, who sat on the panel that also included Syariah Court of Appeal judges Justices Md Yusup Che Teh and Hussin Harun.

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