Malaysia

Children of couple held in Sweden returning to Malaysia

Azizul and Shalwati have been separated from their four children since December 18. - January 31, 2014.Azizul and Shalwati have been separated from their four children since December 18. - January 31, 2014.The four children of the Malaysian couple under remand in Sweden are on their way back to Malaysia.

According to Bernama, the children left on a flight which departed from Stockholm at 6.30am local time (1.30pm Malaysian time) today, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin.

Hamzah told Bernama before departing that they will be arriving in Malaysia tomorrow.

Bernama had earlier reported that the children were handed over to the Malaysian embassy in Stockholm at 4pm local time (11pm Malaysian time) yesterday by the Swedish authorities.

The children were all in good health.

They were brought from a school to the Malaysian embassy where they were able to meet their relatives.

The children who asked to be called Aishah, Ammar, Adam and Arif - aged 14, 12, 11 and seven respectively - initially appeared sombre but were a picture of happiness and laughter on meeting their relatives.

Aishah said: "I am very happy and deeply touched. I did not expect to be able to meet my relatives. Thanks to all of you."

Their parents, Azizul Raheem Awalludin, a Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm, and Shalwati Norshal, a school teacher on unpaid leave, were reportedly det­ained since December 18 after Shalwati allegedly hit their 12-year-old son on the arm for refusing to perform his prayers.

Aishah, who spoke on behalf of her siblings, also conveyed their appreciation for the unflinching support from Malaysians for them since they were separated from their parents.

The Malaysian media team witnessing the occasion found them exchanging pleasantries with relatives while tucking into "nasi lemak" prepared by the embassy.

Also present were Hamzah, ambassador to Sweden Datuk Badruddin Ab Rahman, Umno Youth Complaints bureau head Sheikh Nafiq Alfirdaous and his deputy Datuk Khairul Anwar, who is also the chairman of SukuGuam (a non-governmental organisation), Bernama reported.

At a press conference after the children were reunited with their relatives, Hamzah said the Malaysian government, the Foreign Ministry and the embassy wished to express their thanks to his counterpart State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage and the Swedish Social Services. – January 31, 2014.

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