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Malaysia Releases Woman From Caning Sentence

Malaysian religious authorities have released a Muslim woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was sentenced by a religious court last month to six strokes of the cane and fined $1,400.

On Monday, Islamic officials detained her at her parents' home in northern Parak state. She was to be transported to a jail outside Kuala Lumpur where the sentence was to be carried out. But authorities instead returned her to her home.

Sharifuddin Zainal Ariffin, the enforcement chief from the Islamic affairs department in Pahang state told her family that he was not able to execute the warrant. It is not clear whether the sentence was overturned or postponed.

Kartika was to be the first woman to be caned under Islamic law in Malaysia, a moderate Muslim-majority country.

The 32-year-old woman refused to leave the vehicle when she was returned home Monday, saying she would not come out without a document explaining her status. Her father said the unexpected move would bring ridicule on Islam.

Amnesty International appealed to the Malaysian government Friday to revoke the sentence.

The international rights organization said in a statement that caning is "cruel, inhuman and degrading" and that the practice should be abolished altogether.

But Kartika rejected the appeal in her name, telling reporters she respects the law.

Earlier, Kartika had asked to be punished in public as a warning to fellow Malaysian Muslims. Her request was denied.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.