Six family members who suffocated a Malaysian toddler to death by piling on top of her for hours in a suspected exorcism ritual have been fined but avoided jail, a report said Saturday.
Chua Wan Xuen, aged two, died after being pinned down under a blanket in August last year with eight people, including her parents, crushing her for several hours in an attempt to drive away evil spirits.
A district court in northern Penang state on Friday fined the girl's parents, uncle, aunt and grandmother 10,000 ringgit ($3,000) each after they pleaded guilty to causing Chua's death by negligence, The Star reported. Her 21-year-old cousin was fined 5,000 ringgit, while another cousin, 16, was released on probation... The parents were also fined an additional 5,000 ringgit each on a second charge of exposing their daughter to physical harm.
Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, but has large non-Muslim ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities. Seeking the advice of faith healers is common in Malaysia, but violent rituals are rare.
Ranjit Singh Dhillon yesterday said the Court's decision on Friday to fine the family was inadequate compared with the offense and that the prosecution should file an appeal against the sentence.
He said the family members charged with causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide should have been sentenced to a jail term as well... Ranjit said exorcism was not a valid defense under any criminal jurisdiction in the world and that the only legal defense for the accused in the case was insanity...
"Everyone wants to plead for sympathy, but bleeding hearts can go only so far, considering what was done to the child, who was only 2 years and nine months old then."
...[The family members] were found pinning down Wan Xuen in their house in Bukit Tengah, near Bukit Mertajam, on Aug 5 last year between 7.50pm and 10.52pm. They were caught in the act by policemen, who had stormed into the house following a complaint made by one of Wan Xuen's uncles.
During the trial, the court heard that a postmortem had revealed that Wan Xuen had suffocated to death."
A policeman, one of two witnesses, who testified at the trial of an exorcism-gone-wrong case, said he saw a pile of humans with their heads covered in blankets lying on top of toddler Chua Wan Xuen, who was already dead on the floor.
L/Cpl Mohd Faziri Abdul Rahman, who was attached to the Bukit Minyak police station during the incident last August said Wan Xuen was pinned underneath the bodies of her parents and five other relatives in a room at their home in Taman Bukit Minyak Indah... He said P. Chandrasegaran forced opened the door, which was locked from inside, and went into the first floor room of the double storey house. He told the court they found the room dark and hot as all windows were closed while the air-conditioner was also switched-off and the seven were chanting underneath a blanket.
Central Seberang Prai district police chief ACP Azman Abd Lah said based on answers gathered from family members following Chuah’s death, police discovered that the family had believed they were carrying out the ritual to prevent a ‘deity’ from entering the girl’s body.
“We had recorded statements from 15 people in the course of investigation. From the responses, we learned that the family had conducted the ritual following their fears that a deity would possess the girl,” he said.
He said one of the girl’s aunts had claimed that she had failed in her attempt to ‘marry’ a deity, which led to the spirit attempting to enter the child’s body.
“As such, the family members simultaneously squashed her. This led to her eventual death.”
Excerpts above from Yahoo News UK & Ireland, AsiaOne, Yahoo News Malaysia and Malaysian Digest.