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Brunei sultan announces Islamic laws that could include stoning and amputation

Brunei's sultan has announced that a new Islamic criminal law that could include penalties like amputation for theft and stoning for adultery will be enforced in six months.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a speech Tuesday that the Shariah Penal Code should be regarded as a form of "special guidance" from God and would be "part of the great history" of the tiny, oil-rich monarchy on Borneo island.

Brunei's Shariah Islamic court had previously handled mainly family-related disputes. The sultan has been hoping to implement the new law for years to bolster the influence of Islam in Brunei, where Muslims comprise about two-thirds of the population of nearly 420,000 people.

The minorities are mainly Buddhist, Christians and people of local indigenous beliefs.