A three-year-old girl was apparently smothered to death by eight people during an exorcism ritual in Malaysia 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.
A local newspaper said the ritual lasted 20 hours, but police could not confirm the length of time.
In a later report The Sun Daily says that police are investigating the contents of a ritual book found in the house:
Central Seberang Perai Assistant Commissioner Azman Abd Lah said the police are analysing the Chinese writing to understand the ritual that was carried out by the family members in their house here on Sunday night – which led to the death of the child named Chuah Wan Xuan.
The Associated Press explains that
Belief in the supernatural has long been entrenched among Malaysia’s main Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic communities, though occult rituals have waned in recent decades.
Deaths linked to such rituals are occasionally recorded. Two Malay cousins were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 for killing the parents of one of them during a spiritual cleansing ritual in that involved beating the slain couple with brooms and motorcycle helmets.