Last updated on 6 August 2012 - 10:04pm
BUKIT MERTAJAM (Aug 6, 2012): A three-year-old girl was apparently smothered to death by eight people during an exorcism ritual here on Sunday night.
The toddler, identified only as Choy, died after being pinned down by her parents, relatives and the family maid with their bodies during a ritual ostensibly to chase away evil spirits in the family.
The child was already dead when police, responding to a distress call received from the child's uncle, stormed into the master-bedroom on the upper floor of the family house in Taman Bukit Minyak here at about 10pm.
Central Seberang Perai district police chief ACP Azman Abd Lah said the police team found the family members covered underneath a blanket and in the dark.
"At that time, they were performing the ritual by pinning down the little girl with their bodies," he told reporters here today.
Azman said the policemen quickly pulled out the victim who was trapped underneath the relatives.
The child's body was still warm but she was already dead, believed from asphyxia.
Police then detained all eight suspects, aged between 16 and 67, including the victim's parents, her grandmother, uncle and aunt, two cousins and the maid.
Seven of the eight suspects, including the victim's father, said to be an engineer, were sent to the magistrate's court here today morning, where their remand was extended for another seven days.
The victim's mother, a traditional medicine practitioner who is three months' pregnant, was warded in the Bukit Mertajam Hospital for treatment.
The toddler's body was sent to the Seberang Jaya Hospital for a post-mortem.
Azman said the case has for now been classified as murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which is punishable by death.
Earlier, Azman said the victim's uncle, the older brother to her father, who visited the house became suspicious as the master-bedroom door was locked and its occupants had refused to open it.
He had earlier in the evening gone to the house to invite them for dinner, but had instead been scolded by the family and told to leave them alone.
He left with his wife but returned later to check on the family, and called police on finding the front doors unlocked but the master-bedroom locked, and the occupants in the room unwilling to respond to him.
The suspects were believed to have locked themselves inside the bedroom without eating the whole day.