Teenager test case in Maldives death penalty revival

MALÉ, May 22, 2014 (AFP) – A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder over a fatal stabbing in the Maldives, becoming the first minor to be accused of a capital offence since the death penalty was reintroduced, officials said. The unnamed teenager is accused of stabbing a 21-year-old man to death in December in a drug-related fight in Male, capital of a nation better known as a serene tourist destination, police said late Wednesday.

Although it was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty for the teenager, the laws were changed earlier this year in response to a rise in knife crime.

Human rights groups have widely condemned the reintroduction of the death penalty after a 60-year moratorium, in particular provisions in the law which would allow children as young as seven to be sentenced to death. The government says it has been forced to act following a spate of knife attacks and a surge in gang crime and it has already begun work on a lethal injection facility in the country’s main prison.

Mohamed Shareef, a minister in President Abdulla Yameen’s office, would not say whether the teenager would face the death penalty if found guilty.

“Even in the event of a conviction, there is