8 gamblers caned in Indonesia's Aceh province

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BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian authorities caned eight convicted gamblers as about 1,000 people watched Friday inside a mosque compound in conservative Aceh province.

State prosecutor Nurhalma read out the men's punishment, then a masked man wearing robes used a thin rattan cane to whip their backs five times each.

Police had arrested nine people who were gambling in July and seized about $130 in cash from them. One could not be caned because of his health. He would be caned once his condition recovered, said Nurhalma, who uses a single name.

She said each of the convicts should be whipped eight times but their punishments were reduced as substitution to their arrests.

Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, the mayor of Banda Aceh, said it was the seventh public caning of Shariah violators in the provincial capital since the law was enforced 12 years ago.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has a policy of secularism but allows Aceh on Sumatra island to follow a version of Islamic Shariah law that forbids gambling.

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