The woman who owns a welfare home where a girl with Down Syndrome was physically abused has claimed trial after pleading not guilty to child negligence.
Siti Bainun Ahd Razali, who runs Rumah Bonda in Kuala Lumpur, was charged with neglecting 13-year-old Bella, who was placed under her care from July 2014. Siti Bainun, who was arrested last month, was allowed out on RM12,000 (about US$3,000) bail with one guarantor.
“The government takes the protection of children seriously, especially those who are disabled,” the prosecution said in court. They had sought for a much higher bail – RM20,000 – due to the public interest in this case, which left the teenager with injuries throughout her body, including burns on her chest, hands, neck, and thighs.
Bella’s shocking story sparked the #JusticeForBella online movement as photos of her injuries went viral online. Doctors later confirmed that the victim had infected burn wounds on her forearm and multiple old scars all over her body, according to Kuala Lumpur CID chief Saiful Annuar Yusoff.
Siti Bainun, her agents, and her workers have been prohibited from contacting the victim as well as other witnesses during the trial.
The court also impounded Siti Bainun’s passport and ordered her to report herself to the police once a week.
The case will be heard again on Oct. 4.