KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Five young people in Malaysia who attacked and killed a teenager for being effeminate are expected to be charged with murder, police said Friday in a case that has drawn national attention to bullying.
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the case was classified as murder after T. Nhaveen died of his injuries.
Five teenagers believed to be Nhaveen's former schoolmates were arrested after he and a friend were attacked last Saturday in northern Penang state.
Local media say the assailants taunted Nhaveen while he and his friend were buying food after work. The reports say they both were bashed with motorcycle helmets before the friend escaped. Police have said medical reports showed Nhaveen also had injuries to his anus caused by a blunt object and burn marks on his back.
Thousands of people attended Nhaveen's funeral on Friday. Penang deputy police chief Roslee Chik was quoted by the national Bernama news agency as saying that the five youths are expected to be charged with murder on Monday.
Nhaveen's mother, D. Shanti, was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that her son had been bullied by one of the suspects in school three years ago but kept quiet to avoid more assaults.
"My son said that boy told him, 'You are a pondan (transsexual) and I have to make you a man,'" Shanti told The Star.
Penang police could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Nhaveen's case drew outrage on social media and also the attention of Indian musician and composer A.R. Rahman. Nhaveen had planned to study music and aspired to be like Rahman, his family said. Rahman earlier called on Twitter for "all acts of savagery end and people come to senses."
Malaysian Health Minister S. Subramaniam said the incident reaffirmed that "more serious and drastic actions must be taken by the authorities to curb the poisonous culture of school bullies and gangsterism among youth."
Nhaveen's death was the second in Malaysia in less than two weeks to spark outrage about bullying. On June 1, navy cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, died after allegedly being bound, beaten and burned with an iron. Five students at the National Defense University where he was studying were charged this week with murder and another with abetting the five.