An Islamic school warden was charged Thursday with the murder of a 7-year-old boy accused of stealing money from a classmate, in what is believed to be one of the worst student abuse cases in Malaysia, a government lawyer said.
Deputy public prosecutor Azman Abu Hassan said Hanif Mohamad Ali, 26, faces death by hanging if convicted of murdering the boy at a private Islamic school in northern Perlis state.
Saiful Syazani Saiful Sopfidee lapsed into a coma on March 31 after allegedly being tied to a window for two hours, caned and beaten up, Azman said.
The boy died in a hospital three days later with head and body injuries. Azman said the cause of death was due to a lack of oxygen arising from a neck compression, but it was unclear if he had been strangled or hit with brute force on the neck.
"He punished the boy because he suspected the boy stole 7 ringgit ($2.30) from his classmate, but it got out of hand," Azman told The Associated Press. "It's a very sad case and one of the worst abuse cases involving a small boy."
Hanif was know to be strict during his two years' at the school's boarding hostel, but has no record of student abuse, Azman said, adding that the warden's role was to discipline the children and prevent any untoward behavior.
The warden will enter his plea at the next court session on May 13, the prosecutor said.