Bella abuse trial: Siti Bainun to discover fate on May 3

KUALA LUMPUR: Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali will find out Wednesday (May 3) whether she will be acquitted or found guilty on two charges of neglecting and abusing a teenage girl with Down syndrome known as Bella.

Sessions Court Judge Izralizam Sanusi is expected to deliver the verdict at the end of the defence case at 10am.

On March 9, the defence closed the case after calling eight witnesses with Siti Bainun as the first defence witness to testify in the proceedings that started on Jan 26.

Among the other witnesses who testified were Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) senior lecturer in the field of developmental psychology of children and adolescents with special needs Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad Badayai; an interviewer at the Children's Interview Centre (CIC) Sergeant Siti Nur Balqes Abdul Rahim and Nor Aidil Farhab Johaizad.

Siti Bainun, 31, was originally scheduled to testify on Jan 16, but the proceedings were postponed following her three lawyers, namely Nur'Aminahtul Mardiah Md Nor, Mohammad Farhan Maaruf and Nur Ellena Mohamed Razif, withdrawing from representing her.

The defence proceedings continued the next day (Jan 17), but two other lawyers, Nurul Hafidzah Hassan and Asiah Abd Jalil, also decided to withdraw from representing Siti Bainun, thus leaving the accused without a lawyer.

On Jan 26, Izralizam ordered Siti Bainun to enter her defence on the charges even though she had no legal representation, saying that the proceedings should continue so as not to disrupt the progress of the case.

However, on Feb 20, Siti Bainun reappointed Mohammad Farhan to handle the defence proceedings. Mohammad Farhan previously represented the accused in the trial of the case at the prosecution stage.

A total of 22 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial at the prosecution stage which started on March 30, 2022, including a former resident of Rumah Bonda Yasmin Nahar Mahmood; psychiatrist Dr Wan Asyikin Wan Azlan, assistant manager of a private company Zurianty Sudin and plastic surgeon Dr Salmi Mohamed Shukur.

On Nov 24, the court ordered Siti Bainun to enter her defence on two charges of neglecting and abusing a 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome, after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against Siti Bainun at the end of the prosecution case.

Siti Bainun was accused of committing the offence at a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju between February and June 2021.

The charges are framed under Section 31(1)(a) of the Children's Act 2001 which carries a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment or a fine of RM50,000 or both if convicted.

The prosecution was handled by Deputy Public Prosecutors Nor Azizah Mohamad, Zilfinaz Abbas, Zahida Zakaria, Fazeedah Faik and Shakira Aliana Alias while lawyers Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, Datuk Ikbal Salam and Mohd Radzi Yatiman were appointed by the Tengku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim to keep a watching brief in the case. - Bernama

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