3 charged over Malaysian couple’s death in bizarre ritual
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP)– A 19-year-old Malaysian and his two cousins have been charged with murder for allegedly beating to death the young man’s parents in a bizarre ritual meant to cure them of a smoking habit and other problems, officials said Wednesday.
Muhammad Nizam Mohamad Ibrahim and his two male cousins did not enter a plea after being charged Tuesday, said magistrate Sazlinidayu Kamarul Baharin, who heard their case.
She told The Associated Press that she ordered the three men to be held for psychiatric observation for a month, after which the trial will start on Nov. 14.
Prosecutor Fazril Sani Mohamad Fadzil said the three were charged with murder, which carries the maximum death penalty.
Muhammad Nizam’s 47-year-old father and 41-year-old mother were beaten to death with brooms and motorcycle helmets during a family gathering in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur early this month.
The ritual, during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, took place after another family member allegedly persuaded the others to try the beating ritual to help the man stop smoking and the woman to overcome a liver ailment, among other problems. Details of the other problems remained sketchy.
It is the first such ritual that has come to light in recent history in Malaysia, though superstitious beliefs run strong in this majority Islamic country. In villages, it is common for people to seek the help of bomohs, or spiritual healers, for mental and physical illnesses but their rituals are not known to involve violence.
Some of the family members reportedly are believed to have recently joined an underground banned cult the government alleges was preaching deviant Islam.
But even the cult, known as Al-Arqam, is not known to have practiced such violent rituals.