The RM55,000 (S$21,000) fine imposed on a family, who caused the death of a toddler in an exorcism ritual that went wrong almost a year ago, has been described as a slap on the wrist that does not commensurate with the gravity of the offence.
Penang Bar Committee criminal law chairman Ranjit Singh Dhillon yesterday said the Butterworth Sessions Court’s decision on Friday to fine the family was inadequate compared with the offence and that the prosecution should file an appeal against the sentence.
He said the family members charged with causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide should have been sentenced to a jail term as well.
He said toddler Chua Wan Xuen’s parents, who face a second charge of exposing their child in a manner likely to cause physical hurt, should face time behind bars.
“Public interest demands it. It cannot be just a fine.”
On Friday, the court fined Wan Xuen’s parents, her uncle, aunt, and grandmother RM10,000 each instead of five months’ in jail. A cousin was fined RM5,000 instead of two months’ jail for pleading guilty to participating in an “exorcism” where they pinned down the child. She suffocated to death.
Exorcism is not a valid defense to get off easy for putting a child in such harm. She was not even 3 years old.