Police charge parents with negligence of autistic boy, 6, found dead in Malaysia

Six-year-old autistic boy was found dead in Malaysia in December 2023 (Screengrab/ KiniTV)
Six-year-old autistic boy was found dead in Malaysia in December 2023 (Screengrab/ KiniTV)

The parents of an autistic child allegedly murdered in Malaysia were charged with negligence on Thursday, a day after his grandparents were arrested by the police for investigation.

Zayn Rayya Abdul Matiin, 6, was found dead near a stream located about 200m from his house in Selangor state last December after he went missing the day before.

An autopsy at the time revealed injuries to his neck and body, prompting investigators to comb the surrounding areas in Damansara Damai.

The child's parents – Zaim Ikhwan Zahari and Ismanira Abdul Manaf – were arrested on 31 May and remanded for seven days to assist in the murder investigation. Their remand was extended by six days, before being charged at a Petaling Jaya Sessions Court on Thursday.

The parents, both 29, have pleaded not guilty to the charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years, a maximum fine of RM50,000 (£8,316), or both.

Deputy public prosecutor Ku Hayati Ku Haron asked the court to impose additional conditions for the couple’s passports to be impounded.

Fahmi Abdul Moin, the advocate representing Mr Ikhwan, said bail was only to secure attendance and should not be punitive. “If the accused persons are not able to pay bail, this does not align with the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

“We ask for a RM5,000 (£831) bail. We have no issues with the additional conditions,” he said, according to The Star.

Mahmud Jumaat, who represented the child's mother, argued that she was "suffering from a severe depression" following her son's death, which has "rendered her unable to work".

"At the same time, she is trying to get treatment for her other son who has speech delay and severe autism,” Mr Mahmud told the court.

He also denied earlier allegations that Ms Manaf had recorded a confession, claiming that it was only a statement provided to the magistrate.

She reportedly told local reporters that her son was last seen by some schoolchildren entering the jungle near the building, which prompted her to file a police report.

"However, when the fire and rescue department and the police's K9 unit tried to search in that area, they reported finding no footprints or any clues indicating that my son was there," she was quoted by New Straits Times in December as saying.

Zayn Rayya's grandparents were released on bail on Thursday and were asked to report to the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters every month.

"I am certain that the grandparents will comply with police directives and will continue to cooperate closely in the hunt for the real perpetrator," their lawyer, Fahmi Abd Moin, told reporters.