Caning reprieve for beer drinker
A Malaysian mother-of-two sentenced to be caned for drinking beer under Islamic law has had her punishment commuted.
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno received a letter from the Pahang state Islamic department informing her that the state's sultan had decided to spare her the caning, instead ordering her to carry out community service.
The decision is likely to cool down a debate over whether Islamic laws should intrude into people's private lives in the Muslim-majority country.
Many people had condemned the punishment, saying it showed conservative Islamists were gaining influence over the judicial system.
Sultan Ahmad Shah is the guardian of Islam in the state and its titular head. Most of Malaysia's 13 states are ruled by sultans who usually play a ceremonial role in governance but have the power to rule in Islamic matters.
Ms Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July last year to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit (£920) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort, against Islamic laws. Islam prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol.