KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers appointed by Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim can now hold a watching brief in the trial of 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 made the decision after lawyer Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat informed the court that he and three other lawyers had been appointed to hold a watching brief for Bella.
“We are applying to follow the case with the consent of Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun after she was granted an audience with the Tunku Mahkota Johor yesterday,” the lawyer said.
“We will also seek to appear as an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) for Bella besides also applying for the Court Recording Transcript (CRT) of prior proceedings,” he said in a Bernama report.
The three other lawyers are Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, Datuk Ikbal Salam and Mohd Radzi Yatiman.
Yesterday, Tunku Ismail, after a meeting with Rina at the Royal Johor Polo Club in Johor Baru, made three proposals to the government to prevent the recurrence of abuse cases such as the one involving Bella.
Bella’s case went viral on social media last year when a woman claimed that the teenager was scalded by hot water and was tied up while under the care of Rumah Bonda, a welfare home.
Following that, Siti Bainun, 30, was charged with neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl, causing the victim to suffer physical and emotional injuries.
She pleaded not guilty to charges of neglect and abuse under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which carries a 20-year jail sentence or a RM50,000 fine, or both, if convicted.
Also attending the proceedings on Wednesday was Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, who represents persons with disabilities in Dewan Negara.
In a media statement, Khairul Anwar expressed gratitude for the court’s decision yesterday.
“We are considering being more actively involved in the proceedings by seeking to appear as an amicus curiae once we receive complete documentation and case proceeding records.
“It is important for us to assist the court and the public prosecutor in achieving justice for Bella,” Khairul Anwar said.