Saturday, July 2, 2022

I saw Bella lying on the floor, burn marks on her neck, witness tells court

Legal research officer Suhana Zam says she stumbled over Bella in the dark, lying on the floor of the laundry room.

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A witness told the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur that she saw a teenage girl with Down syndrome known as Bella lying on the floor of the laundry room at a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju without a blanket and mattress with burn marks on her neck.

Suhana Zam, 40, a legal research officer at a law firm, said she was on her way to dispose of the rubbish in the laundry room at 4am when she saw Bella lying on the floor without a blanket, pillow or mattress, not covered with anything.

“That night, I was doing office work until 4am. When I was about to dispose of the garbage, I did not turn on the lights. I stumbled upon Bella who was lying on the floor of the laundry room and I was shocked and at loss for words because that was the first time I saw Bella in that situation,” she said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Nor Azizah Mohamad at the trial of Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali who is accused of neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl.

Nor Azizah then asked Suhana what she had done after stumbling upon Bella.

“Bella was lying on her left side, I bumped into her and she wasn’t even surprised,” Suhana said.

“I paused for about 10 to 15 seconds looking at her, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Then I closed and locked the door, turned off the lights and went into the room to sleep.

“I tried to sleep but could not because I was thinking about Bella’s condition. At that time, Haiza was sleeping next to me and I said to her, ‘Do you know where Bella sleeps?’ But I did not tell her because at that time Syahirah was also with us,” said the eighth prosecution witness.

Suhana said she saw the incident when she went to the condominium unit with her adopted sister, Haiza, for the Aidilfitri celebration with Siti Bainun and the occupants of the house on May 21, 2021.

“I arrived in the afternoon and planned to stay for two days. When I entered the unit, I saw Bella standing by the wall facing the dining table, and there was an injury on Bella’s neck. Her skin was burnt and red,” she said.

During the Raya feast, she added, she saw Bella standing by the refrigerator wearing only a T-shirt and trousers.

“At that time, Siti Bainun told a resident of the house, known as Aida, to change Bella’s clothes, after Haiza called Bella to join others in the ‘bersalam’ (shaking hands) session in the living room of the condominium,” she said, adding that Bella had looked cheerful and smiled while participating in the session.

Suhana, who has been friends with Siti Bainun for 10 years, said Bella was seen hugging Siti Bainun for the longest time and did not want to let go of the hug, but Siti Bainun only said, “Okay, okay.”

Asked by Nor Azizah about Bella’s injuries, Suhana replied: “The main injuries were burn marks. I was shocked and asked Siti Bainun what happened to Bella and Siti Bainun said that Bella and her ‘siblings’ were playing with hot water.

When asked who Bella’s siblings were, Suhana replied: “Aida and Balqis but not Yasmin, that’s all I know. I told Siti Bainun that she shouldn’t let the girls fight like that and Siti Bainun replied, ‘I can’t do anything because once Aida is angry, she loses her mind.'”

Suhana said when she slept at the condominium in April last year, she saw Bella standing by the wall looking unhappy. She said Bella did not dare to look at her but that Suhana did not say anything, only watched television.

Nor Azizah asked how long Bella had been standing there and Suhana replied: “I arrived at the condominium around 9pm and Bella was already there. When I went to bed at midnight, Bella was still there. I saw Bella looked sad, scared, not talking and just staring at the floor.”

Nor Azizah: Did you ask Siti Bainun why Bella was like that?

Suhana: Bella was punished but I did not ask her for what reason.

Nor Azizah: How many nights did you sleep at the condo?

Suhana: Just one night but Siti Bainun invited me to go over to Zurianty’s house because there was a birthday celebration for Jane, one of the children under her care. Bella was not included and was left alone in the condominium.

Suhana said she had seen Bella at the same spot for more than 10 hours when she went to the condo to have breakfast with Siti Bainun at a restaurant in Chow Kit, adding that Siti Bainun gave Bella papers and pencils to draw with, and that Bella was seen sitting on the floor, drawing from morning to evening.

“I could see that Bella was not feeling comfortable as she was falling asleep, and when Balqis shouted out to report that Bella was falling asleep, Siti Bainun would call out loudly to Bella from her room, telling her to continue drawing,” said the witness.

Siti Bainun, 30, faces two counts of neglecting and abusing the girl, causing her to suffer physical and emotional injuries.

She is charged with committing the offences at a condominium in Wangsa Maju between February and June 2021. The charge was framed under Section 31 (1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of RM50,000 or both, upon conviction.

The trial before judge Izralizam Sanusi continues on June 13.

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