A 13-year-old girl with Down Syndrome known as Bella appeared at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today for identification proceedings in the trial of Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali.
Deputy public prosecutor Nor Azizah Mohamad informed the court that apart from Bella, there were five other individuals, aged between three and 17, present in court for the identification proceedings.
Previously, the six individuals were under the care of Siti Bainun at the shelter home.
They will be identified by three witnesses, namely an assistant manager of a company Zurianty Sudin, 39, a resident of Rumah Bonda Yasmin Nahar Mahmood, 19, and a legal research officer at a law firm Suhana Zam, 40.
Bella, clad in a blue shirt, black pants and grey scarf, was brought into the witness room at 9.50am by officers from the Social Welfare Department (JKM) and greeted by lawyer Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat who was appointed by the Regent of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, to hold a watching brief in the trial.
A total of eight prosecution witnesses have testified in the case and today Suhana, who is also the eighth witness, will continue her testimony.
Siti Bainun broke down and wept uncontrollably at the sight of a 3-year-old toddler carried into the courtroom by one of the adult witnesses.
She then tried to reach out to the toddler by placing her palms on the plastic divider placed in front of her.
She also tried to take a look at the children standing behind the curtain as another 3-year-old brought for the identification procedure tried to pull through the divider to reach her.
This led to her crying out loud, and louder when the children were asked to return to an adjoining room.
Bella was initially scheduled to appear in court for the identification process on May 30, and again last Monday.
However, she was unable to attend both times as she was reportedly unwell.
Upon her arrival today, Bella was seen happily making “mini love” hand gesture at media photographers gathered at the court entrance.
Earlier, the court was temporarily adjourned to make way for the installation of a foldable screen to ensure that the children could not directly see Siti Bainun, who was seated in the dock.
Defence lawyer Nur A’minahtul Mardiah Md Nor objected to the use of the foldable screens and argued that the children were not under witness protection.
She said there was also no issue of intimidation or provocation of the children’s safety if the screen was not used.
Nur A’minahtul said the defence wanted the children to look at Siti Bainun, and the court to record their reaction upon seeing her.
However, Sessions Court judge Isralizam Sanusi overruled the objection on the grounds that it was just an identification process and the children were not being called to give statements.
Siti Bainun, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of neglect and abusing Bella, to the point of causing the victim to suffer physical and emotional injuries.
She is charged with committing the act at a condominium in Wangsa Maju between February and June 2021 under Section 31 (1) (a) of the Child Act 2001, which provides for a maximum jail term of 20 years or a fine of RM50,000 or both on conviction.
The trial before Judge Izralizam Sanusi continues.