15 Jan Nine Myanmar nationals charged in gruesome Malaysia killings

Written by AFP Published in Regional Read 1710 times
A picture made available on 15 January 2015 and dated on 14 January 2015, showing Malaysian police escorting suspects in the murder cases of Myanmar citizens at a court in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia. Nine Myanmar citizens has been brought to court on charges of participating in an unlawful assembly and caused the death of six of their countrymen on 14 September 2014. All of them were charged under the Penal Code which provides for a mandatory death sentence. EPA/STR MALAYSIA OUT
A picture made available on 15 January 2015 and dated on 14 January 2015, showing Malaysian police escorting suspects in the murder cases of Myanmar citizens at a court in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia. EPA/STR MALAYSIA OUT

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Nine Myanmar nationals have been charged with murder in Malaysia over the gruesome killings of six of their countrymen, a media report said January 15.

The men, ranging in age from 20 to 44, were charged in the northern state of Penang on January 14, but did not enter pleas, The Star reported. They face the death penalty if convicted.

Over the past year, around two dozen murder cases involving Myanmar nationals have been reported in Malaysia, mostly in Penang, where public anxiety has risen as severed body parts and decapitated corpses repeatedly turned up.

Investigators say several victims were killed in a single Penang house designated for the slaughter.

Police have said they believe the attacks are related to the religious based communal violence seen in Rakhine state.

But the authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia have not yet confirmed this to be the case.

With its more developed economy, Malaysia is a sought-after destination for Myanmar refugees and illegal migrants, both Buddhists and Rohingya, many of whom bring along their sectarian grudges.

More than 40,000 Rohingya refugees, registered with the UN, are in Malaysia. Rohingya activists say there are roughly equal numbers of un-registered Rohingya.

Police were earlier reported to have several more people in the killings, but their fates were not clear.

AFP was not immediately able to reach Penang police for comment.

Police also are reportedly still looking for four more murder suspects.

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Last modified on Thursday, 15 January 2015 19:38