Suspect held over spray-painting incident at St Anne’s Church

The statues at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam spray-painted with an ‘X’  on Wednersday. (WhatsApp pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the spray-painting of several statues at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam on Wednesday.

Central Seberang Perai police chief Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said the 34-year-old man was arrested by police officers at the Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor.

“The suspect was arrested at the psychiatric ward of the hospital and has been put under observation. The investigating officers have interviewed the suspect and his family members,” he said.

Nik Ros said the man had earlier been admitted to the psychiatric ward on the urging of his wife who claimed he had hit her.

He said the man was escorted by Petaling Jaya police to the hospital to be admitted, as a first information report was filed by the wife in that police district.

He said police officers from Bukit Mertajam will investigate the suspect under Section 427 of the Penal Code for mischief. The offence carries a maximum five-year jail sentence or a fine or both upon conviction.

The church in Cherok Tokun, founded by a French missionary in 1846, is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year for the annual St Anne’s feast.

Catholics and also people of other faiths come from all over the country, also from Singapore and Thailand to offer prayers to St Anne – the mother of Mary and Jesus’ grandmother – during the week-long feast.

The suspect, described by a guard to be in a fit of rage, had sprayed an “X” on several statues in the church.

He told the guard that the Bible did not condone idolatry and left a note containing a verse believed to be from the Book of Exodus to justify his action.

Police said damage to the statues amounted to about RM200, including the cost of removing the paint.