Rumah Bonda Founder Sentenced To 12 Years In Jail For Abusing Bella

Siti Bainun's lawyer pleaded for a short custodial term, saying "current prison facilities cannot cater" to the 31-year-old "due to her large size".

Cover image via Mohd Rafiq Redzuan Hamzah

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Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali has been found guilty of abusing and neglecting Bella, a child with Down syndrome.

She has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today, 3 May, convicted the welfare home founder on two counts of neglecting and abusing the 13-year-girl, who is one of her adopted daughters, reported New Straits Times.

Judge Izralizam Sanusi, while reading out his verdict at 10am, said Siti Bainun abused Bella to the point that she suffered physical and emotional damage, and that the teenager suffered from emotional damage after having shown symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after she was put under her care.

"I find the accused guilty of the first and second charge," the judge said while rejecting Siti Bainun's claim that Bella's physical injuries such as burnt wounds and multiple scars were because of spilled hot water.

Izralizam handed down the sentence to her after hearing submissions. He imposed 10 years for the first charge, and 12 years for the second charge. He ordered the sentences to run concurrently from today.

Siti Bainun was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service after the completion of her jail sentence and to sign a five-year good behaviour bond.

The judge also found that Siti Bainun made up false stories

According to The Star, a total of 22 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial at the prosecution stage which started on 30 March last year, including Yasmin Nahar Mahmood, a former resident of Rumah Bonda.

Izralizam ruled that the testimonies by Siti Bainun and defence witnesses were mere hearsay, especially over the allegation that Bella's injuries were caused by hot water rather than abuse, reported Malaysiakini.

Siti Bainun has been slapped with two charges under Section 31(1) of the Child Act 2001. It carries a maximum of 20 years' imprisonment or a fine of RM50,000, or both, if convicted.

Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali in the middle.

Image via Aswadi Alias/New Straits Times

Siti Bainun's counsel Farhan Maaruf pleaded for a lenient non-custodial sentence because she had repented over the incident

He also pleaded that in the event that Siti Bainun is sentenced to jail, she be given a short custodial term as "current prison facilities cannot cater for a person of her (Siti Bainun) physical being".

"This is due to her large size and attendant health (issues)," he said, as reported by Malaysiakini.

Deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Zahida Zakaria, however, sought a deterrent sentence because the 31-year-old betrayed the trust of Bella and the community to discharge her duty as a caregiver of children.

The DPP also pointed out Bella's injuries, saying the scars from the injuries are permanent and that they "would stay with Bella for the rest of her life".

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In 2021, Malaysians took to social media to start a campaign demanding justice for Bella after it was exposed that the abuser is her carer:

The next year, then-Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun turned her visit to Bella into a 'photo op':

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