Court: Offence committed in Ipoh tahfiz school sexual abuse case; DPP ordered to explain why no suspects identified

Lawyer Asiah Abd Jalil speaks to reporters outside the Magistrate’s Court in Ipoh August 7, 2019. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Lawyer Asiah Abd Jalil speaks to reporters outside the Magistrate’s Court in Ipoh August 7, 2019. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Aug 7 — The Magistrate’s Court said today an offence did take place in a case where a boy was allegedly sexually abused at a tahfiz school in Manjoi, Ipoh.

The alleged offence took place three years ago in a tahfiz school teaching Quran memorisation, then owned by celebrity preacher Datuk Kazim Elias.

The victim, then nine years old, was alleged to have been consistently abused, together with other students, by their seniors over a period of five months at Maahad Tahfiz al Barakah.

The family’s lawyer, Asiah Abd Jalil, told reporters when met after the court proceedings, which took place in private chambers, that the Magistrate Mohammad Afifi Mohammad Deen recognised that an offence did take place following the complaint made by the victim’s mother.

“The court today listened to the complaint made by the mother, the case chronology and also took note of why the investigation paper on the case was not completed.

“After going through the case, the magistrate takes cognisance of the offence involved in the case,” she said after the court proceedings, which lasted about an hour.

Asiah said the magistrate will now call the deputy public prosecutor in the next proceeding, which will take place on October 9, to explain why the investigation paper was closed previously with no suspects identified.

“Both the victim’s mother and the deputy public prosecutor have to appear before the magistrate,” she said.

She said the decision made by the Magistrate’s Court was in accordance with Section 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Under Section 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a Magistrate may take cognisance of an offence, among others upon receiving a complaint or upon his own knowledge or suspicion that an offence has been committed.

The complaint filed by the mother today was under the aforementioned Section 377E and Section 14(a) of the more recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 -- that handles physical sexual assault on a child.

Asiah also pointed out that no suspect was identified or hauled up for investigation previously, despite the victim being able to identify the suspects.

She also claimed that the police did not follow the standard operating procedure when dealing with this case.

“The police did not call the victim to do facial recognition on the suspects or bring the victim to the place where the incident took place,” she added.

Meanwhile, the mother, who is a civil servant, said that she felt relieved now that the court has finally taken note of the offence involved in her son’s sexual abuse case.

“I hope after this, the other victims’ families will come forward to lodge a report on the sexual abuse which happened to their children in the tahfiz school.

“I also hope it will be a precedent case and help other mothers on what they should do if they encounter a high profile case like this,” she said.

In August 2016, the mother had lodged two police reports alleging that her son, then nine years old, was consistently sexually abused together with other students by their seniors in the tahfiz school.

The case had then received the attention of former TV celebrity Wardina Safiyyah and social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, who highlighted the case on social media in November 2016.

In response, Kazim had demanded the mother apologise and threatened to take legal action in the form of an RM8 million libel lawsuit.

He also sent similar letters of demand to Wardina and Syed Azmi. No action was taken by Kazim despite the trio’s remarks.

In December that year, the police had informed the mother that there would be no further action over the case.

Despite providing additional documents and evidence to support her claim, the mother was again told in May 2018 that no further action would be taken, citing lack of witnesses and concrete evidence to support the allegation.

Meanwhile, the child victim is still undergoing psychiatric therapy to overcome his trauma. It is understood that his therapy is only scheduled to conclude in 2021.

Kazim no longer owns the tahfiz school, claiming that a falling number of speaking appointments had made it difficult for him to manage the centre.

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