Prosecutor tears into couple's defence

STOCKHOLM - The prosecution against the Malaysian couple on trial in Sweden for allegedly abusing their children has brought into question the couple's defence, picking holes in many of their arguments.

Prosecutor Anna Arnell argued that Azizul Raheem Awalluddin's credibility was weakened as he changed his statement mid-trial.

She pointed out that Azizul had admitted during a police interview to beating his children about three to five months ago, but suddenly claimed during the trial that he had not beaten them since the family was in South Africa four years ago.

Azizul and his wife Shalwati Norshal were facing their 11th and final day of trial before the Solna district court over accusations that they hit their children.

Arnell said Shalwati admitted to beating Ammar and Adam once in isolated incidents, but claimed all her other charges resulted from her children's lies and exaggeration.

"I find it disturbing how parents could say their own child is lying. It is too far fetched, considering Ammar maintained his story to his friends, the school councillor and during multiple police interviews," said the prosecutor.

Arnell admitted a few weaknesses in the interviews, saying the interviewer had asked several leading questions.

"Another negative might be that the interviews were very long. But that's up to interpretation, as it was conducted over a month and gleaned a lot of information," said Arnell.

She said Ammar's testimony satisfied the Swedish Supreme Court criteria that video statements should be clear, long, vivid, and truthful.

Arnell added that while there were deficiencies in the testimony, like defining a proper timeframe, that was understandable considering the young age of the children.

She urged the court to hand down jail sentences, in the range of two-and-a half-years for Shalwati and about two for Azizul.

The prosecutor also recommended that the Malaysian couple be deported after serving their sentence and be kept in detention pending a decision, as they were a flight risk.

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 Spånga, a Stockholm suburb, between Sept 15, 2010 and Dec 17, 2013.