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

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

Legal research officer at a law firm, Suhana Zam, 40, said she was on her way to dispose of the rubbish in the laundry room at am when she saw Bella lying on the floor without a blanket, pillow, mattress and she was 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 the examination-in-chief by the deputy public prosecutor Nor Azizah Mohamad at the trial of Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali who was accused of neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl.

Nor Azizah: You stumbled upon Bella and what was your action?

Suhana: Bella was lying on her left side, I bumped into her and she wasn’t even surprised. 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. Adding that during the Raya feast, she saw Bella standing by the refrigerator, and the teenager did not wear a Raya dress; instead 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’ (shake hands) session in the living room of the condominium,” she said, adding that Bella looked cheerful, and smiled when she participated in the session.

Suhana, who has been friends with Siti Bainun for 10 years, said that Bella was seen hugging 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, the witness replied: “The main injuries were burned 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.

Nor Azizah: Who are Bella’s ‘siblings’?

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.”

Meanwhile, Suhana said when she slept in the condominium in April last year, she saw Bella standing by the wall and looked unhappy and did not dare to look at her but 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 9 pm 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.

According to the witness, she had seen Bella standing at the same spot for more than ten 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 and 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 shout 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 the victim to suffer physical and emotional injuries.

She is charged with committing the offences at a condominium in Wangsa Maju here 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 or a fine of RM50,000 or both, if convicted.

The trial before Judge Izralizam Sanusi continues on June 13. – Bernama