Tim Stickings, for Mailonline – A convicted sex offender was given 74 lashes in a public whipping in Indonesia today – wearing a face shield emblazoned with the name of a local travel firm.
The caning was handed out under Sharia law in the arch-conservative province of Aceh, which has continued to carry out its notorious public floggings despite the coronavirus crisis.
The victim was allowed to wear a visor which bore the name of BookCabin.com, a website which describes itself as a new Indonesia-based travel company hoping to expand into foreign markets.
It was not clear whether BookCabin had sought such prominent advertising or whether it had any connection to the suspect, whose name was given only as MZF.
Flogging is common for a range of offences in the region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol and having sex outside marriage.
Authorities said today's victim had been convicted in a 'molestation case' involving minors and received 74 whippings, reduced from 80 after he served a six-month prison term.
Local media said the 26-year-old suspect asked for a break and a drink after the 40th stroke, after 'groaning with pain' as he was hit with the cane.
The man wore a mask and shield along with his white robe as he was escorted to the whipping venue in Lhoksukon, closely watched by an armed officer.
The public canings sometimes attract large crowds of eager spectators taking pictures on their phones, and some people were seen watching today's flogging from outside the canopy where it took place.
Officials said earlier this year that the floggings had been moved indoors and shorn of the usual opening speeches because of the virus pandemic.
The cane-wielding official who carries out the punishment typically wears a hood in any event. Indonesia has seen 80,094 cases and 3,797 deaths in the pandemic.
Aceh is the only region in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law. About 98 per cent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims and therefore subject to the law, known locally as Qanun.
A 100-stroke punishment is reserved for the most severe crimes and offenders may also be sentenced to prison time.
Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but the practice has wide support among Aceh's population.
Amnesty International said earlier this year that the floggings were 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' and said their continuation during the pandemic 'poses a further threat to the population at large'.
The charity says more than 100 people have already been flogged in 2020 so far, after 309 such punishments were handed out in 2019 and 235 in 2018.
Aceh adopted sharia after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.