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Whipping introduced by British, still legal in Tonga

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 18, 2010) – There is outrage in Tonga after two local men were sentenced to six lashes of the whip by a Tonga-based British Supreme Court judge.

Whipping was introduced by the British and is still legal in Tonga, but has not been used since the 1980s.

Supreme Court judge Robert Shuster sentenced the two men to 13 years jail and six lashes for escaping from prison and stealing while on the run.

Prime Minister Fred Sevele refused to be drawn on the case because the two men are appealing the sentence.

"I prefer not to discuss that," he said. "I understand the matter is under appeal now and we should refrain from discussing such issues as it is before the court."

Tonga's police commissioner, Chris Kelley, says the punishment by whipping will present an enormous challenge for his department if it is upheld on appeal.

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