OSLO: A Norwegian court said yesterday it has sentenced an Indian couple to prison for physically abusing their then six-year-old son in a case that has drawn widespread attention in India.
The couple, who were living in Norway for professional reasons at the time, were found guilty of burning their son, today aged seven, with a hot spoon and the father was also found guilty of lashing him several times with a belt.
The father and mother were sentenced to prison for 18 and 15 months respectively.
The Oslo district court refused to disclose their names, but Indian media have identified the parents as Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni, a computer engineer, and his wife Anupama.
Social services were alerted after the boy refused to get off a school bus in March after wetting himself.
He said he was afraid his parents would “burn my tongue,” as they had threatened to do on previous occasions.
Police then opened an inquiry that uncovered the abuse.
The boy said he was deliberately burned with a hot spoon on his leg in January, causing a three-by-five centimeter (one-by-two inch) scar. His parents claimed it was an accident.
The child also told judges his father had hit him on the back with a belt on several occasions, which the father denied.
The sentence was in line with the prosecution’s request.
According to Norwegian media reports, the parents plan to appeal the sentence. The boy and his younger brother currently live with their grandparents in India.
The case made headlines in India, where a number of media outlets had incorrectly claimed the parents risked prison in Norway for threatening to send the boy back to India if his incontinence continued.
It followed another highly publicized case that saw Norwegian social services remove two young Indian children from their parents’ custody due to shortcomings in their care.
The family blamed it on cultural differences toward childcare, and the case escalated into a diplomatic row with the intervention of Indian government officials.
The children were finally handed over to their uncle in India and Indian social services have since ruled that they should be returned to the mother’s custody.