KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Sessions Court today allowed an application by lawyer Mardhiyyah Johari to hold a watching brief for the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) in the trial of the founder of the Rumah Bonda welfare home,  Siti Bainun Ahd Razali, who is charged with neglecting a Down syndrome child.

Judge Izralizam Sanusi made the decision after Mardhiyyah informed the court of the application.

“It is not a problem for Suhakam to appoint a lawyer to hold a watching brief in this case, but there is a difference between parties holding a watching brief and those with locus standi. Lawyers hold a watching brief should always respect that principle,” said the judge.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Hafizatul Ifa Ab Razak informed the court that the prosecution had submitted 12 documents on the case to the defence, but several other documents would be submitted before the trial began.

Counsel Yalini Munusamy, representing Siti Bainun confirmed the matter.

The court has also set March 22 for further case management.

Siti Bainun, 30, pleaded not guilty to two counts of neglecting and abusing a 13-year-old Down syndrome girl in a manner likely to cause her physical or emotional injury at a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju here between February and June last year.

The charge, framed under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, provides a maximum fine of RM50,000, or imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both, if found guilty.

The court has set 15 days, from March 30 for the hearing, with the prosecution expected to call 34 witnesses. — Bernama