In a highly publicised case which has been ongoing for years, Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali has been slapped with a 22-year jail sentence for physically abusing and neglecting a girl with Down Syndrome.
Sessions Court judge Izralizam Sanusi found her guilty of child abuse after hearing both the prosecution and defence counsels’ mitigation submissions on the sentencing.
Found guilty of child abuse
Siti Bainun was sentenced to 10 years in jail for neglecting the girl named Bella, and 12 years for abusing her. Judge Izralizam also ordered that both sentences run concurrently with immediate effect.
In handing out the sentence, Judge Izralizam said that Siti Bainun had subjected Bella to physical and emotional abuse after the latter displayed signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after she came under Siti Bainun’s care, reported NST.
He also rejected her earlier claim that hot water was to be blamed for the multiple scars and burn wounds on Bella’s body.
Siti Bainun was sentenced under Section 31(1) of the Child Act 2001, where it provides a maximum jail term of 20 years, a fine of RM50,000, or both, if convicted.
Judge Izralizam also said the testimonies given by Siti Bainun and defence witnesses during the trial were based on hearsay, most notably on the claim that Bella’s injuries were caused by hot water and not physical abuse, reported Malaysiakini.
Lawyer pleads for shorter sentence
Prior to the sentencing, Siti Bainun’s lawyer Farhan Maaruf pleaded for a shorter sentence, citing his client’s remorse for her actions and her large size.
Current prison facilities cannot cater for a person of her (Siti Bainun) physical being. This is due to her large size and attendant health (issues). A long prison sentence would impact the accused’s health.
However, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Zahida Zakaria called for a heavy sentence, saying that Siti Bainun had betrayed Bella’s trust and the community in her capacity of being child caregiver.
“The scars from the injuries are permanent and would stay with Bella for the rest of her life,” she argued.