KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia's cabinet, reacting to public outrage over the rape and murder of two 10-year-old girls, has given the go-ahead for the mandatory death sentence to be imposed on rapists who kill their victims.
The cabinet also agreed in principle to provide for life imprisonment and possibly public whipping for rape, particularly of children, local media reported Thursday.
Amendments to the law will be put before the next sitting of parliament, law minister Rais Yatim said. At present rapists who cause the death of their victims need to be prosecuted separately for rape, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail, and for murder, which carries the death penalty.
"The cabinet views this as insufficient and feels that rape resulting in death must automatically carry the mandatory death sentence," Rais said. The death penalty in Malaysia is carried out by hanging.
The proposal to flog rapists in public would be studied further before any decision was taken, he said. The government's soul-searching has been prompted by a public outcry over the rape and murder of two 10-year-old schoolgirls this month.
Nurulhuda Ghani was gang-raped by three men, sodomised and strangled near her home in southern Malaysia while on an errand for her mother to the grocery store.
A 47-year-old security guard has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and 24 lashes after admitting raping the girl. He will later face a murder charge.
Another suspect is in custody and a third is being sought by police.
On January 8, Haserati Saridi was stabbed to death after being raped while walking to school in eastern Sabah state.
A 26-year-old man released from prison last month after serving a sentence for theft has pleaded guilty to raping her and will also face a murder charge.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"