KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Prosecutors in Malaysia are pursuing rape charges against a 40-year-old man who allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old girl and then married her.
Restaurant manager Riduan Masmud was charged with committing statutory rape in a parked car in Borneo in February, but the man has defended his actions by saying he since married the girl.
Rights activists have long criticized Malaysian laws that allow very young Muslims to be wedded with the permission of Islamic courts.
Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail said late Wednesday that authorities remain firmly against statutory rape and were compiling a DNA report and other evidence in Riduan’s case.
Riduan is already married to another woman and reportedly has four children. Malaysian Muslim men can have up to four wives.
Riduan told local media that he had known the girl for six months and that she consented to their marriage, which took place earlier this month.
“There are many cases of men marrying underage girls. I do not see why my case should be any different,” The Star newspaper quoted Riduan as saying Monday after his latest court hearing.
A district court in Malaysia’s Sabah state scheduled the next hearing for July 1 after Riduan’s lawyer,Loretto Padua, said his marriage documents have been submitted to investigators.
Malaysian media reports say the rape prosecution stems from a police complaint filed by the girl’s aunt against Riduan, but the girl has sought to revoke the complaint.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and whipping with a rattan cane if convicted.