The Malaysia Sharia Court has fined a village imam who married an 11-year-old Thai girl 1,800 ringgit (450 dollars) and sentenced him to six months in jail, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Zaini Sulaiman, from the state sharia court in north-eastern Kelantan, confirmed the charges to dpa and said the marriage has been invalidated.
Zaini said that Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, aged 41, had violated Islamic family laws. “That’s why the punishment imposed is appropriate,” he added.
The rubber scrap dealer, who is said to have six children from his first two marriages, apparently got married in Thailand without the consent of his other wives.
The prosecutor had previously told dpa that the case was being treated as “polygamy without consent.”
According to local media, the girl’s parents gave consent to the marriage and were present when the marriage took place at a Thai mosque.
The mother is thought to work for the imam’s first wife and authorities are investigating whether the parents were motivated by poverty to marry off their child, The Star news website had reported previously.
Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, said last week authorities were investigating “elements of sexual grooming.”
In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, Muslim girls below the age of 16 can marry with the consent of their parents and a sharia court, while Muslim men can have up to four wives.
Wan Azizah and activists have called for legislation to ban child marriage.