STOCKHOLM: The Malaysian father on trial with his wife for hitting his children here told the court that he had earlier admitted to it because he misunderstood a question from the police.
Azizul Raheem Awalluddin said he only hit his children while the family was in South Africa and Malaysia, adding that he used to do it before they moved to Sweden.
Prosecutor Anna Arnell then pointed out that Azizul had admitted during police interviews to hitting his children to discipline them, even after the officers had clarified that they were only asking within the context of when he was living in Sweden.
Azizul, a Tourism Malaysia director, replied that he had misunderstood the police’s question as he was nervous.
“It was my first time being interrogated by the police. I was so nervous that my brain didn’t work and I thought that the question meant if I had ever hit them throughout their whole life,” he said in the Solna district court here yesterday.
Sweden has outlawed corporal punishment since 1979, which meant that Azizul and his wife Shalwati Nurshal now face up to six years in prison.
Listing dozens of alleged incidents of hitting brought up by the couple’s four children earlier in the trial, Arnell asked if these offences occurred outside Sweden.
“Yes,” replied Azizul, adding that in Sweden, he was less strict, only thumping the tables or shouting to get his children’s attention.
Asked why he had arranged another interview with the police despite having been interrogated five times previously (sometimes without a lawyer present), Azizul said he had to clarify some mistakes.
“Going over the interview transcripts with my lawyer, it seems that some of my answers were misconstrued,” he said, prompting the prosecutor to ask: “How could things go so wrong?”
Azizul then cited the example he had given the police in which a Muslim parent could beat his children if they did not pray.
“I would never do that. If they miss prayer, I have them pray with me,” he said. Shalwati was seen nodding in agreement.
Asked by his lawyer Jonas Tamm to describe the character of Ammar, the eldest son who had reported to the school counsellor that his parents beat him, Azizul said:
“Ammar is one kind of a person. He likes to be the centre of attention. To take part in a conversation, he’ll act like a know-it-all and even make things up sometimes.”
Asked why he no longer beat his kids once in Sweden, Azizul said that was because his children were more grown up and manageable compared to the time that they were in South Africa.