Friends testify how Ammar was affected by alleged abuse

STOCKHOLM - Testimony of those close to the Malaysian children alleged to have been abused by their parents while in Sweden, has shed light on how it affected the children.

John Webb, a friend of Ammar, said the boy had a short fuse and was often "super sad" before telling the school counsellor that he was being hit at home.

Ammar's parents, Shalwati Norshal and Azizul Raheem Awalluddin, a Tourism Malaysia director here, were detained on Dec 18 last year after Ammar told staff at his school that he had been hit, leading them to report the matter to the authorities.

John, 14, said he and a few other friends convinced Ammar to speak with the counsellor after the latter revealed that his mum had pulled his ear and pinched him for discipline.

"I don't think it's right, there's discipline, but you shouldn't hit," answered John, when asked what he thought about Ammar's explanation as to why his parents beat him.

John said Ammar told him that he missed his parents and was sad to be in foster care, though he also disliked being beaten by his parents.

Another friend, Maxwell Shenk, 13, said Ammar's moods made other kids dislike spending time with him as it made them depressed too.

Maxwell said there was a huge difference after Ammar went to the counsellor - he was happier and schoolmates wanted to talk to him more.

Foster parent Annelie Renman Amiljanic said the kids were rather tense, especially Ammar who was uncomfortable when she called him to come downstairs or raised her hand.

Amiljanic and her husband Dejan Smiljanic ran the emergency foster home the four siblings were sent to after their parents were detained.

She also said the eldest, Aishah, would panic when she was late to come home, often sending four or five SMSes apologising profusely - even after the foster mother said that was not necessary.

"The kids said their mother often told them she would put them in boarding school back in Malaysia, if they misbehaved," said Amiljanic.

On Feb 10, Shalwati and Azizul were charged with multiple counts of gross violation of a child's integrity, by hitting and abusing their children.

The alleged offences took place in the family's home in Spnga, a Stockholm suburb, between Sept 15, 2010, and Dec 17, 2013.

The trial continues today.