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Beverly Hills demands Brunei sultan sell hotel

Beverly Hills said it has passed a resolution demanding the Sultan of Brunei sell his hotel in the posh US city after he introduced a penal code incorporating Islamic sharia law.

 LOS ANGELES, May 07, 2014 (AFP) - Beverly Hills said Wednesday it passed a resolution demanding the Sultan of Brunei sell his hotel in the posh US city, after he introduced a penal code incorporating Islamic sharia law.

Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced last week that he would push ahead with implementing sharia, despite criticism both at home and internationally.

An initial phase officially came into effect Thursday, with a second phase including more stringent penalties, including the severing of limbs for theft and robbery, to begin later in the year.

Late next year, punishments such as death by stoning for offenses including sodomy and adultery will be introduced.

"The Beverly Hills City Council yesterday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the government of Brunei for a series of laws that impose extremely harsh penalties, including death by stoning for homosexuality and adultery," said a statement sent to AFP.

Bolkiah owns the historic Beverly Hills Hotel as well as the Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles through his company Dorchester Collection, which also has branches in London, Paris, Milan and Rome.

The city council said they will send the resolution to the State Department asking Washington to "take appropriate action to condemn the Brunei government's policies."

The United States has "relayed our concerns privately to the government of Brunei," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday, but it will not follow a growing boycott of the Sultan's luxury hotel chain.

Beverly Hills' Mayor Lili Bosse called the new laws "shocking, inhumane."

"They must be met with a strong statement of support for human rights of the people of Brunei," she said.

The Dorchester Collection is reportedly owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a sovereign wealth fund under the oil-rich sultanate's Ministry of Finance.

The sultan's support for sharia law has sparked rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler on the Muslim-majority country's active social media, and international condemnation including from the UN's human rights office.

But the sultan has defended the implementation of the law, meant to shore up Islam and guard the Southeast Asian country against outside influences.

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