Retrial for rape suspect who wed alleged victim

KUALA LUMPUR • A Malaysian rape suspect who married his 14-year-old alleged victim to avoid jail will be brought back to court for a retrial, the accused's lawyer said yesterday.

Ahmad Syukri Yusuf, 22, allegedly raped the girl, now 15, last year in a country where rape charges can incur a sentence of up to 30 years in jail and whipping.

But a court in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo island ruled last week it would not proceed with the case after it emerged that the accused had married his alleged victim, sparking an outcry from activists and politicians.

"It's back to square one. The trial will be heard again. It will be difficult for me. It is a retrial," Ahmad's lawyer, Mr Azam Trudin, told AFP.

Activists welcomed the retrial, which is expected to take place next month, with some calling for child marriages to be made illegal.

"You endorse the violent act (of rape) by allowing that marriage to take place," said Ms Meera Samanther of the Association of Women Lawyers in Malaysia. "We should ban all child marriages."

Child marriages are not uncommon in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Girls below the age of 16 must obtain the permission of Islamic courts, but activists say such permission is too readily granted.

In 2013, a man who raped a 12-year-old girl avoided prison after he married her, provoking an outcry. However, the following year, a high court sentenced the father of four to 12 years in jail.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2016, with the headline 'Retrial for rape suspect who wed alleged victim'. Print Edition | Subscribe