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East Aceh councillor attacked fleeing love nest

Jakarta Globe - May 25, 2010

Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh – An East Aceh district councillor was hospitalized after an angry mob that suspected him of committing adultery attacked him while he was trying to escape from his love nest, residents of the town said on Monday.

Mohammad Yusuf, 32, was set upon by Langsa residents when he tried to flee the house on Sunday morning.

Muhammad, an Aceh Party councillor, was found in the house with a woman identified as Santi.

In staunchly Islamic Aceh, where sharia law is partially in force, it is illegal for people of the opposite sex to congregate in close proximity with each other unless they are related. The villagers also found another unmarried couple, Saifullay, 33, and Nava, 25, in the home when they searched it.

"When the residents raided the house, both couples were fully dressed. But when they checked [Yusuf's] room, they found a condom with sperm in it," village head Bahrum Nazar said.

According to the village boss, Yusuf had tried to tell the villagers he had recently married the woman, but soon recanted the story when he realized they did not believe him.

Angered by the deception, the villagers were on the verge of accosting the councillor when Bahrum and police officers intervened. "After that, Yusuf tried to flee through the back door. But the locals chased him and beat him up," Bahrum said.

Police officers rushed Yusuf to Langsa general hospital before taking his companions to the police station for questioning. "If he had not run, they would not have hit him. The others were left unharmed," Bahrum said.

Adj. Comr. Yosi Muhammartha said the four may face charges of violating a 2003 Qanun, or local bylaw, that banned people of the opposite sex being in close proximity outside of marriage. If found guilty, they could be given nine lashes of the cane.

Yosi said Yusuf also might face drug charges after a pipe used to smoke amphetamines was found in the house.

Lawmakers in Aceh passed a law last year that would allow convicted adulterers to be stoned to death but the provincial governor refused to sign off on it.

The Aceh Party, founded by former guerillas of the now disbanded Free Aceh Movement, holds the most seats on the East Aceh district council.