Bella case: Lawyers holding watching brief urge court to expedite hearing

SEREMBAN: Lawyers holding a watching brief for a 13-year-old girl with Down Syndrome who was allegedly abused and neglected while living at a home want proceedings at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to be expedited.

The team, led by Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, met the girl identified only as Bella at a safe place here for the first time Thursday (May 26) morning to assess the extent of her injuries in the alleged case following their appointment on April 20.

"Looking at the visible scars and injuries on Bella, we are of the view that proceedings at the Sessions Court must be expedited to protect her rights and interest," the team said in a brief statement after meeting Bella for about 30 minutes.

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The other members of the team are Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, Datuk Ikbal Salam and Mohd Razi Yatiman.

(Mohd Razi was not present at the meeting.)

The team was appointed by Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim to hold a watching brief in the trial.

Rumah Bonda founder, 30-year-old Siti Bainun Ahd Razali, was charged separately in August and November with neglecting and abusing Bella.

However, she pleaded not guilty to two counts of abandonment and abusing the girl 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 READ: Bella fed rice mixed with vinegar, rotten fried chicken, court told

The incident allegedly took place at a condominium in Wangsa Maju between February and June last year.

Baljit later told reporters that Bella looked healthy and was in high spirits during the meeting.

"She seems to have recovered well from her injuries. We are also happy to note that she has been given good medical care," he said.

ALSO READ: 'Don't make remarks on Bella case'

Asked about their statement that the matter should be expedited, Baljit said this would depend on the court's schedule.

"All we are saying is that if more hearing dates can be fixed... that depends on the court's schedule.

"We are only hoping that the case can be expedited," he said.

The trial continues on May 30.

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