3 athletes charged with rape at Malaysian tourney

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Prosecutors charged three teenage Malaysian handball players Thursday with raping a female chaperone while participating in a key sports tournament.

The case has raised concerns about discipline and security at the Malaysian Games competition, which involves the country’s top athletes under 21 years old.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to raping a 20-year-old woman on July 4 at a dormitory during this year’s tournament.

A district court in central Selangor state scheduled a hearing for Aug. 20. The suspects, who are 18 and 19, were released on bail.

Rape convictions in Malaysia carry a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Malaysian Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said initial investigations showed the suspects had been out drinking with a coach and other sports officials who have since been suspended.

It was not clear whether they could also be charged in Islamic courts for consuming alcohol, which is unlawful for Muslims in Malaysia.

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