Wife, stepsons charged for murder of Malaysian CEO

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The wife and two teenage stepsons of a Malaysian company CEO who died in an incident that attracted national interest were charged Monday with his murder.

The company, Cradle Fund Sendirian Berhad, is a government-owned venture capital firm that provides seed money to tech startups. Its CEO, Nazrin Hassan, was found dead in his bedroom last June with burn marks on his body.

His death was initially blamed on a fire allegedly caused by an explosion of his cellphone while it was charging, but investigators later suspected foul play after traces of gasoline were found at the scene. Despite the objection of his wife, Samirah Muzaffar, his body was exhumed for a second autopsy that led to Monday's shocking indictment of Samirah and her two sons from her first marriage. The boys, aged 13 and 16, cannot be identified because they are minors.

An Indonesian woman who is at large, reported to be their former maid, was also charged in absentia with murder. No plea was recorded in a lower court, and the case will be transferred to the High Court.

The two women face the death sentence if convicted, but minors may escape the gallows. Malaysia's government has said it plans to abolish capital punishment for crimes and has put all death sentences on hold.

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