Swedish court finds Malaysian couple guilty of hurting children, metes out jail sentence

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian couple accused of child abuse in Sweden has been found guilty and sentenced to prison by the Solna District Court, and will also have to pay their children damages.

Mother of the four children, Shalwati Norshal, 46, was handed a 14-month prison sentence for gross violation of the integrity of their daughter and eldest son, as well as of assault of their two younger sons.

Father Azizul Raheem Awalluddin, 38, who is in Sweden as a Tourism Malaysia director, was handed a sentence of 10 months prison, convicted of gross violation of the integrity of his eldest son and the assault of his daughter and second-oldest son. He was acquitted of any offences against his youngest son.

The court also ordered Shalwati and Azizul to pay their children 67,200 SEK (RM33,900) and 36,400 SEK (RM18,362), respectively.

District Judge Mattias Möller found the children’s testimony highly credible and that there was nothing to support the idea that the children wanted to harm their parents by inventing incorrect information.

“Most of the violence has been inflicted with the hands but a cane – called a “rotan” – and a clothes hanger have been used as well,” said Judge Möller, in a press release issued by the District Court.

The judge’s full 61-page verdict was also posted on the Solna district court’s website, though only available in Swedish.

Shalwati and Azizul have been in detention since Dec 18 last year after their second child, Ammar told staff at his school that he had been hit, leading them to report the matter to the authorities.

The prison time is from the date of arrest, meaning the court will discount the three months they had already spent in detention.

On Feb 10, Shalwati and Azizul were charged with multiple counts of gross violation of a child’s integrity, by hitting and abusing their children.

The offences took place in the family’s home in Spånga, a Stockholm suburb, between Sept 15, 2010 and Dec 17, 2013.

Sweden has outlawed corporal punishment since 1979, and is known to punish offenders heavily - with a minimum prison sentence of nine months.

Here is the press release issued by the Solna District Court in full:

Prison sentences for gross violation of integrity in the "Malaysia" case

Today the Solna District Court handed down its judgment in a case that has attracted a great deal of attention in which two parents were charged with gross violation of their children's integrity. Both parents have been sentenced to prison.

The mother is convicted of gross violation of the integrity of the daughter in the family and the eldest son, as well as of assault of the two younger sons. She is sentenced to prison for one year and two months. The father is also convicted of gross violation of the integrity of the eldest son and for assault of the daughter and the second oldest son. He is acquitted of any offence against the youngest son. He is sentenced to ten months imprisonment. Both parents must also pay damages to the children for the crimes of which they have been found guilty by the court.

The family comes from Malaysia and has been living in Sweden since 2010 because the father had been posted to work in Stockholm by the Malaysian government. The charges have solely concerned crimes committed in Sweden. Both parents denied committing any crimes against the children.

The evidence in the case has consisted mainly of video-taped police interviews with the children. All four children have spoken of violence in the home. The district court considers the children highly credible and their accounts are on the whole reliable. According to the district court there is nothing to support the idea that the children wanted to harm their parents by inventing incorrect information and giving it to the police. Even though there is no supporting evidence in the form of medical observations, the details given by the children are confirmed, for instance, by the testimony of witnesses about what the children confided in them.

The case has solely concerned violence against the children which, if all the acts were appraised separately, would be classified as either assault or minor assault. Most of the violence has been inflicted with the hands but a cane - called a "rotan" - and a clothes hanger have been used as well.

– Even if the violence against the children has often been relatively minor, the offences which the district court concluded fall under the more serious charge of gross violation of integrity involved systematic and repeated violence, says the presiding judge, Mattias Möller.

Ever since 1979 inflicting physical punishment on children has been explicitly and totally forbidden in Sweden.

The judgment (in Swedish) can be ordered by e-mail from solnatingsratt.avd4@dom.se. Ask for case number B 10423-14.

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