Bella case: Court warns public from making statements, posting comments on social media

KUALA LUMPUR: The public has been warned against issuing any statement or making comments on social media regarding the ongoing trial involving Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali who is charged with neglecting and abusing a teenage girl with Down syndrome known as Bella.

Sessions Court judge Izralizam Sanusi Izralizam said he agreed that Malaysians have the right to freedom of expression, but legal action could be taken against those who go overboard in their postings on social media.

"The court would like to warn and remind the public especially those in the public gallery not to make any slanderous comments that are sub judice or contempt of court.

"If such things happen, I believe that the prosecution can take appropriate action against the individuals involved because it clearly violates the law of contempt of court and sub judice,” he said.

He said the trial was still ongoing and the fifth prosecution witness, Yasmin Nahar Mahmood had not finished testifying.

"Do not overstep the law. There are code of ethics for lawyers while the prosecution and the public are subject to the laws.

"The trial still has a long way to go and the fifth prosecution witness is still under cross-examination, so keep your comments that are sub judice and slanderous to yourself.

“Do not spread them for the sake of gaining followers that can affect the course of this case,” said the judge.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nor Azizah Mohamad told the court that there were comments related to the case made by the public on social media.

"I would like to ask the court to warn the public against making postings that could be prejudicial to this case,” he said.

Echoing the same sentiment Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, the lawyer appointed by Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim to hold a watching brief in the trial, said the issue also involved officers of the court.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Zahida Zakaria informed the court that Yasmin appeared in court today but could not testify because she was unwell.

"Yesterday, Yasmin received treatment at a clinic and was issued with a sick leave certificate. The witness had low blood pressure and is unwell to testify. We would like to call other witnesses, namely ASP Nazatul Madiyah Manaf and detective Corporal Sadzly Sairen,” she said.

Nazatul Madiyah, the Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department’s Sexual, Women and Children’s Investigation Division (D11) senior criminal investigating officer, said she had received instructions to arrest a woman, who was later identified as Siti Bainun, at a condominium in Wangsa Maju on July 6, 2021.

The sixth prosecution witness said she then submitted the arrest report to an investigating officer known as Inspector Suhaili, but the police officer told her that Siti Bainun was not remanded as she was undergoing quarantine due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Sadzly, informed the court that he had been instructed by the investigating officer to take photographs related to the case.

However, the seventh prosecution witness agreed with lawyer Nurul Hafidzah Hassan, representing Siti Bainun, that he did not take photographs of some items such as Ikea and Starbucks mugs, which were allegedly used to splash hot water on Bella.

Nurul Hafidzah: So I suggest that you did not take photographs of the eight items of evidence because there were no instructions from your superior and complaints from the complainant.

Sadzly replied: Agree.

Siti Bainun, 30, had pleaded not guilty to two charges of neglecting and abusing the teenager to the point of the victim suffering injuries and also emotionally.

The offences were allegedly committed at a condominium in Wangsa Maju here between February and June 2021 under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which carries a jail sentence of up to 20 years or a fine of RM50,000 or both, upon conviction.

The trial continues on May 30. - Bernama

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