Malaysian jailed for sex with minor after uproar

A Malaysian high court on Monday jailed a man for more than five years for having sex with a 12-year-old girl, following outrage over an earlier verdict to free him on probation.

A high court in northern Penang state upheld Chuah Guan Jiu's conviction and ordered him jailed for five-and-a-half years on two charges of statutory rape, his lawyer Yusuf Idris said.

Yusuf told AFP that he would appeal the verdict.

A lower court in August had freed the 22-year-old electrician on probation after finding him guilty of having sex with the girl on two occasions in July last year, when she was 12 years and 10 months old.

That court was reported to have said it had considered Chuah's future when coming to its decision, as he was a young first-time offender.

Yusuf had argued the sex was "purely consensual" and that his client was not educated on the law, having dropped out of school at 14.

Chuah's release in August came weeks after another man, national ten-pin bowler Noor Afizal Azizan, 21, was also freed on probation after having sex with a 13-year-old in 2009.

His release followed a successful appeal against a five-year jail sentence for the offence.

The two rulings caused anger among activists who called for a legal review to ensure children are given adequate protection.

Although the age of consent in Malaysia is 16, and statutory rape is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and whipping, judges are given discretion when sentencing offenders.

Malaysia's de facto law minister Nazri Aziz said in October that the government was planning to change the law to make jail terms mandatory for sex with minors.

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