From: The International News
KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Friday charged seven family members, including the parents, over the death of a three-year-old girl who suffocated in a suspected exorcism ritual, media reports said.
Chua Seng Ban and his three-month-pregnant wife Lim She Lee, both aged 35, pleaded not guilty to charges of causing the death of Chua Wan Zuen, aged two years and nine months, at their home in the northern town of Bukit Mertajam.
The five other family members, who face a maximum two-year jail sentence and a fine if convicted, also pleaded not guilty. Police said the seven piled on top of the girl in an attempt to drive away evil spirits. She was reportedly pinned down under a blanket for 20 hours during the August 5 incident.
Wan Zuen’s parents were also charged with exposing their daughter to physical harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a 20,000 ringgit ($6,400) fine.
According to The Star daily’s online version, the other five family members charged were the child’s uncle, aunt, grandmother and two cousins aged 21 and 16. All the accused were released on bail pending a hearing on September 13.
A 39-year-old Indonesian maid, who police said had joined the seven others in the ritual, was not charged and will appear as a prosecution witness, according to the New Straits Times daily. Court officials or lawyers acting in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.