KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court here today found that the Down Syndrome teenager, known as Bella, suffered physical and emotional injuries when under the care of Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali.

Judge Izralizam Sanusi in his judgment, when ordering Siti Bainun, 30, to enter her defence on charges of neglecting and abusing the teenager, said that if the accused had looked after Bella well, the girl would not have suffered and endured such pain.

“Based on the testimony of the prosecution witnesses (SP) consisting of medical experts from Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) who treated Bella and the former residents of Rumah Bonda, as well as based on photographs of Bella’s injuries and recordings via mobile phones, I found that the victim suffered physical and emotional injuries while in the custody of the accused (Siti Bainun).

“SP3 (HKL pediatrician Dr Nizam Malik Bali Mohamed) said that there were many traces of old wounds on the face, left neck, back, abdomen and right thigh of the patient (Bella) and based on the testimony by SP4 (HKL medical officer Dr Sheshadri Sridar), there were burn marks on both Bella’s hands and scars on her body,“ he said.

As such, he said, the prosecution had succeeded in proving that the accused mistreated and caused physical and emotional injuries to Bella.

The judge said HKL plastic surgeon Dr Salmi Mohamed Shukur (SP15), who treated the wounds on both Bella’s hands, stated that while treating the girl, she found that the injuries were serious and that the wounds took time to heal.

“SP15 also stated that the wounds on both Bella’s hands were second degree burns and were not caused by an accident or self-inflicted injury,“ said Izralizam.

Referring to the testimony by Dr Meenabigai PK Sevarah (SP2), of the Emergency and Trauma Division at HKL, he said there were injuries and old scars on Bella’s body when she was first taken to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Izralizam said a community nurse at the Taman Sinar Harapan welfare home, Wan Zuriena Wan Ismail (SP14) stated that Bella was traumatised and scared when she was brought back to the home.

“SP14 used to treat Bella when the girl was at Taman Sinar Harapan and after the girl was handed over to the accused...she found that after Bella was sent back to the home, the girl became afraid of people, that she was not the same as before and was traumatised and often screamed at night,“ he said.

Apart from that, Izralizam said a resident at Rumah Bonda, Yasmin Nahar Mahmood (SP5) stated in court that she felt it was Siti Bainun who had caused the burns on Bella’s body by pouring hot water on the girl.

“The testimony by SP15 was supported by Dr Nizam Malik (SP3) who opined that Bella’s injuries were caused by abuse and it was impossible that she had self-inflicted them nor caused by an accident because there were many repeated burn injuries,“ he added.

Izralizam also said the prosecution succeeded in proving that the accused had custody of Bella as the woman had obtained temporary custody of the girl since July 14, 2020 and on Sept 24 the same year, the court issued an order for the girl to be placed under the custody of the accused until the age of 18.

He said the order was made with several conditions, among others, that Bella’s custody and maintenance cannot be transferred to someone else without legal process.

“With this, the prosecution succeeded in proving a prima facie case for both charges and ordered the accused to defend himself,“ he said.

Lawyer Mohammad Farhan Maaruf, representing Siti Bainun, then informed the court that his client would testify under oath from the witness stand.

“The prosecution has offered 15 witnesses to the defence, but we have yet to receive instructions from our client regarding the matter.

“The defence will call five witnesses, including Siti Bainun, and we will file the witness list tomorrow,“ he said.

The court set five days, from Dec 5, for the defence trial.

Siti Bainun,30, was seen crying and was comforted by her lawyer after hearing the decision.

She had pleaded not guilty to charges of neglecting and abusing the teenager to an extent that the girl suffered physical and emotional injuries, in a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju between February and June 2021.

The charges were framed under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries imprisonment for up to 20 years or a fine of RM50,000 or both, if found guilty.

Meanwhile, lawyers appointed to hold a watching brief in the case, in a media statement issued today, said they were satisfied with today’s decision which had taken into account all the evidence, the testimony of the prosecution witnesses and the submissions by both parties.

“Indeed, justice, in this case, needs to be obtained immediately so that parents or guardians, especially of disabled children, take seriously the aspect of the welfare of children in their care. The findings of the court today are a manifestation of the struggle by Bella and the society in seeking justice for her (Bella),“ it read. - Bernama