PETALING JAYA: Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali, who is facing charges of neglecting and abusing a Down Syndrome girl known as Bella, was ordered by the sessions court here today to enter her defence despite not being represented by a lawyer.
Judge Izralizam Sanusi made the order after deciding that the defence proceedings must go on so it does not disrupt the case, Bernama reported.
“The court has the absolute discretion to allow or reject the application for postponement,” he told Siti Bainun.
“In this case, I have to use my wise discretion. So today, we will begin with you reading your witness statement which has been received by the prosecution.”
Izralizam said he had taken into account that the statement was about 200 pages long, “and I believe that reading this statement will take two days”.
“I am also concerned about your right to be represented by a lawyer. So, I will postpone the cross-examination by the deputy public prosecutor.
“You have given your word to have a lawyer appointed within a month. As the hearing day was set on Feb 20, I am sure the DPP can do their cross-examination with you having a lawyer by then.”
Siti Bainun’s defence team had previously comprised lawyers from five different firms.
On Jan 17, it was reported that the last two lawyers representing her – Asiah Abd Jalil and Nurul Hafidzah Hassan – had withdrawn from the case, leaving her with no legal representation.
The day before, three lawyers, including lead counsel Nur’Aminahtul Mardiah Nor, withdrew from the case after finding out that two other defence lawyers, Farhan Maaruf and Nur Ellena Razif, had submitted a notice of withdrawal.
When the judge asked whether she had filed a complaint with the Malaysian Bar against the lawyers, Siti Bainun said: “No, because they are still helping me in preparing the statement of claim and other documents relating to the proceedings.”
Meanwhile, DPP Zilfinaz Abbas objected to several paragraphs in Siti Bainun’s witness statement on the grounds that they touched upon the personal matters of previous witnesses and the expertise of the prosecution’s witnesses.
Izralizam ordered the prosecution to list the paragraphs in question, and stood down the proceedings to decide on the matter.
On Nov 24 last year, Izralizam ordered Siti Bainun to enter her defence on two charges of neglecting and abusing Bella after the prosecution managed to establish a prima facie case against her.
Siti Bainun, 30, had pleaded not guilty to the two charges of abuse and neglect, which resulted in physical and emotional distress to Bella, between February and June 2021 at a condominium in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur.
She was charged under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years or a fine of RM50,000, or both, if convicted.