A four-year-old Malaysian boy was pronounced dead at 6:40pm on Dec. 26 at Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Bahru after succumbing to his injuries from a suspected case of child abuse, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.
According to Johor police chief Kamarul Zaman Mamat, the victim was brought to the hospital and put under critical care on Dec. 23 after he fainted in a house at Senggarang, Batu Pahat.
The local police were alerted of the case after one of the suspects, a 23-year-old man, filed a police report at around 6:45pm that day, according to The Star. He reportedly claimed that the boy's injuries were due to a fall.
Five people were later arrested around the area between 12am and 9:45pm on Dec. 24.
The suspects consist of three women, aged between 15 and 37, and two men, including the boy’s 19-year-old sister and her husband. They are reportedly being remanded for seven days until Dec. 31, according to FMT.
The Star also reported that various items have been seized from the house, such as a phone charger, a pillowcase, a bedsheet, a 73.6cm iron bar, a clothes hanger, a fan cover and a motorcycle rod.
It is believed that some of the items had been used to abuse and torture the victim.
Investigations are ongoing
According to the Malay Mail, the police had already commenced investigations of child abuse due to the injuries sustained by the boy.
Kamarul Zaman said in a statement that the victim had been placed under the care of his older sister because both of their parents were in jail for drug offences. He added that on Dec. 23, the boy was handed over to his sister’s friends to be looked after.
The case was initially classified under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 for investigation, which provides for a maximum fine of RM50,000 (S$15,200) or 20 years imprisonment or both.
However, it was later reclassified under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder after the boy’s death, the police chief said.
He added that a post-mortem would be done to investigate the exact cause of death.
Top images via Getty/Joel Gerone Larupay & Chee Siong Teh