PETALING JAYA - 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.
The couple both in their early forties, was arrested on Dec 18. Their remand order was extended for another fortnight on Thursday, according to Astro Awani.
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.
Neither the Foreign Affairs Ministry nor Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz could be reached for comment.