IT has been a month since a Malaysian couple was detained in Sweden for allegedly hitting one of their four children, and they have to remain in custody for another two more weeks before their case is heard.
Azizul Raheem Awalludin, a Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm and his wife Shalwati Nurshal, a secondary school teacher on unpaid leave, were reported to have hit their 12-year-old son for not performing his prayers.
There is no bail system in Sweden and those arrested can be held in custody until the trial is completed.
However, there have been cases in which courts have routinely released defendants pending trial deemed to be not at risk of leaving the country.
No charges have been brought up against the couple, who are not allowed to see their children who have been handed over to a non-Muslim foster home.
A source close to the family told The Star that the parents had scolded the boy and hit him on his hands for not performing his prayers.
He said the boy did not suffer any bruises after being hit.
“Perhaps after the scolding, the child went to school feeling a bit down and his teacher approached him, asking if something was the matter.
“The boy’s teacher informed the school counsellor. A report was then made by the counsellor and within a day, all the children were taken from the school and their parents were arrested,” said the source.
Azizul, who has worked in Sweden for three years and has served the Tourism Ministry since 2000, was arrested at his office.
No charges have been brought against the couple, who are being detained separately.
Under Swedish law, even if the parents are found not guilty, they still would have lost custody of their children.
To reclaim custody, they would need to apply to the court to get their children back.
If the parents are found guilty, there is a mandatory jail sentence of at least nine months.
Bernama reported yesterday that the children were unhappy at their foster home.
The eldest, Aisyah, 14, was quoted as saying that she and her brothers aged 12, 11, and 7 were uneasy there as their foster parents kept a dog and served non-halal food.
“Although they do not feed us non-halal food, we share the crockery and utensils,” she said.
The girl was also quoted as saying Swedish authorities did not allow them to meet relatives who had flown from Malaysia to see them.
One of the children, identified only as Ammar, said: “I miss Mummy and Daddy. We want to go back to Malaysia but they won’t let us.
“We are sad each time we come back from school as our parents are not around.”
The children, are however, free to move around on their own, including taking public transport.
The family source said the couple had requested for another foster family to take care of their children and also appealed for them to be put under the temporary care of the Malaysian embassy.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said the Government had sent an official to Sweden to get an update on the matter.
Malaysian govt doing all it can to help Malaysian couple detained in Sweden, says Anifah
“We will give assistance… what is proper within the legal frame of the country. We have done everything that is needed to be done under the foreign ministry,” Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 20/1/2014.
Azizul Raheem Awalludin and his wife Shalwati Norshal were arrested on December 18 for allegedly hitting the hand of one of their four children for not praying.
Azizul Raheem, the Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm, and his wife Shalwati Nurshal, a secondary school teacher on unpaid leave, had their remand order extended for another two weeks last Thursday. They have no diplomatic immunity or privileges.
Until now, no charges have been brought against the couple, who are in their 40s, although they have not been allowed to see their children.
The minister also revealed that Swedish authorities have appointed legal counsel for the couple who are facing a mandatory jail sentence of at least nine months if found guilty.
When asked about their four children, Anifah said every effort was being made to place the kids in a Muslim home.
“We have discussed with the Swedish authorities and we have asked that the children stay with Muslims, preferably Malaysians. They are considering our request,” he said.