Malaysia may reconsider murder charge against teen accused of killing newborn

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian prosecutors may reconsider a murder charge made against a teenage girl accused of killing her newborn son, pending the outcome of a probe into allegations that the baby was conceived of rape, the Attorney-General's Office said on Friday (Feb 18).

The 15-year-old was charged with murder on Tuesday after her son was found last week with stab wounds to his chest, but activists have called for the case to be reclassified as infanticide and for the girl to be released on bail.

The teenager, whose identity the authorities have withheld, has alleged the baby was conceived when she was raped by a man in his 20s, according to police.

A separate investigation is under way into the rape allegation and the man she has accused is wanted by the authorities.

The Attorney-General's Office said in a statement that the murder charge filed against the girl was "a transparent criminal justice process" based on statements and documentation by witnesses, forensic officials and pathology experts.

But prosecutors can "review the original prosecution" and change it to another charge "based on additional developments as well as the results of the probe into the rape incident", the statement added.

The charge of murder carries the death penalty in Malaysia, but if convicted, the girl would instead serve a prison sentence under alternative sentencing laws for minors.

The teen was detained after she was found holding the dead baby at a house in Terengganu state on Malaysia's east coast on Feb 8.

Investigations later found the baby's umbilical cord had been cut with a sharp object. They also found a stab wound and other bodily injuries.

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