Malaysia's leader wants laws for juveniles to be amended after a boy who stabbed a girl to death when he was 12 was released after serving four years in prison, reports said yesterday.
An appeals court freed the boy on Wednesday, ruling that his conviction was valid but the sentencing was unconstitutional because there are no legal guidelines to imprison minors convicted of murder.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the attorney general to review the law governing young offenders.
"It is important to review the act so proper sentencing can be meted out," Abdullah was quoted as saying by the Sunday Star.
The boy, who was not identified because he is a minor, was found guilty in 2003 of stabbing to death the teenage daughter of his tutor and sentenced to prison at the discretion of the king. Under such cases, the king can choose to pardon the convict.
The boy was 12 years old at the time of the murder in 2002.
The newspaper said the boy's victory has raised hopes for about 11 juveniles being detained at the pleasure of Malaysia's king for murder or drug trafficking, although this will depend on prosecutors' appeal of the decision in the Federal Court.
Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow was quoted as saying that 11 of the boys were minors under the age of 18, of whom 10 were detained for murder. Fu could not be reached for further comments yesterday.