SINGAPORE — The twin half-brothers of a four-year-old girl who was allegedly murdered by her stepfather had sat on the girl’s stomach at least twice in the period before her death, according to the children’s mother.
Syabilla Syamien Riyadi, 24, took the stand on the second day of her husband’s trial on Wednesday (3 February) to recount the events leading up to Nursabrina Agustiani Abdullah’s death on 2 September 2018.
Syabilla’s husband, 28-year-old Muhammad Salihin Ismail, claimed trial to a charge of murder arising from two alleged incidents of assault on Nursabrina the day before she died. The assaults allegedly happened after Nursabrina urinated on the floor instead of the toilet bowl twice.
While toilet training the girl on 1 September 2018, Salihin was said to have hit her in the stomach with his fist a few times. Later that day, when the girl peed on the floor again, he supposedly pushed her and kicked her twice in the stomach while she lay on the floor.
He then purportedly placed her on the toilet bowl and drove his fist into her stomach a few times. Nursabrina died the next day from internal bleeding.
Syabilla and Salihin had married on 31 August 2016, when Nursabrina was two years old. The couple have two twin boys who were born on 29 November 2016.
Also taking the stand on Wednesday was Salihin’s stepmother, who testified that Salihin had treated his stepdaughter “as his own daughter”.
Syabilla later appeared in court to testify, dressed in purple prison garb. She told the court that she was in remand for offences involving unlicensed moneylending and drugs. She said she was arrested on 14 June last year and released on bail, but that she was caught again by the Central Narcotics Bureau on 28 October last year.
When asked about how her husband had treated Nursabrina, Syabilla said that the accused person was “more strict” with her as she was older than the twins.
Syabilla said that on 1 September 2018, Salihin had texted her to complain about Nursabrina’s urinating. Syabilla had been at work then. When Syabilla returned home, she noticed that her daughter looked “quite pale” and was perspiring.
The next morning, Nursabrina told Syabilla that her twin brothers had stepped on her stomach and showed her mother a clenched fist, according to Syabilla. She then asked the girl if Salihin had punched her. The girl said no, Syabilla told the court.
This occurred before Salihin brought her into the toilet to help her vomit. When Salihin emerged from the toilet, he was carrying the unconscious girl in his arms and she was not breathing anymore, according to Syabilla.
Syabilla said she then asked Salihin to perform CPR on the girl and he did so in front of his wife.
Asked which part of Nursabrina’s body her husband had performed CPR on, Syabilla said Salihin had pressed on the girl’s stomach and blew on her mouth. However, when asked to clarify later in the trial, Syabilla said she was uncertain which part of the body the CPR was performed on.
The prosecution also asked Syabilla to describe her daughter’s personality, and she replied, “(She is) cheerful (and) liked to help me with chores at home. She loved to play with her brothers. She misbehaved sometimes and liked to run around in house sometimes.”
At the prompting of the defence lawyer Syazana Yahya, Syabilla recalled that her twin sons, whom she described as “rough” when they played, had sat on their half-sister on two occasions in the months leading to Nursabrina’s death.
Syazana asked, “You said Nursabrina loved to play with her brothers, they played a lot with each other and the twins played roughly. Sometimes when they played with each other, do they injure each other?” Syabilla replied yes.
In the week before Nursabrina’s death, Syabilla said she “saw both sitting on her (daughter’s) stomach and pushing the weight on the stomach, like bouncing on top.” This continued for a few seconds before Syabilla “screamed” at her sons to stop.
The trial continues on Thursday with a forensic pathologist expected to take the stand.
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