Friday, 15 October 2010

Lawyer and three others charged with murder

By LISA GOH and NURBAITI HAMDAN
news@thestar.com.my

BANTING: One of the country’s more gruesome murder cases saw its first day in court when a lawyer and three of his farm hands were in the dock to face charges of murdering cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others.

N. Pathmanabhan, 41, T. Thilaiyalagan, 19, R. Matan, 20, and R. Kathavarayan, 30, were jointly charged before magistrate Hurman Hussain yesterday.
Pathmanabhan
 
They were led into the courtroom at Telok Datok here at about 9am.

The courtroom was filled with members of the press and some 20 members of the public, including an ex-schoolmate of lawyer Pathmanabhan. However, none of their family members were present.

The charges against Pathmanabhan were read in Bahasa Malaysia while the charges against the rest were read in Tamil.

They were charged with the murder of Sosilawati, 47, CIMB Bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad, 38, personal lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abd Karim, 32, and driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.

All the four accused allegedly committed the murders at Lot 2001, Jalan Tanjung Layang, Tanjung Sepat, Banting between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on Aug 30.

No plea was recorded.

The accused were all handcuffed, with Matan having two handcuffs on him. The four looked calm and composed when the charges were read out.

It was reported that the four victims had gone missing on Aug 30 after telling family and friends that they were going to Banting to discuss a land deal.
The other accused (from left) Thilaiyalagan, Matan and Kathavarayan (right) being taken to the Telok Datok magistrate’s court Wednesday. — K.K. SHAM / The Star
 
More than a week later, they were discovered to have been murdered. Their bodies were believed to have been burnt and their ashes thrown into a river near a farm owned by Pathmanabhan.

The accused are also being investigated for the disappearance of several others, including Indian millionaire A. Muthuraja, 34, local businessmen Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, 37, and housewife T. Selvi, 44.

Representing Patmanabhan were lawyers Amer Hamzah Arshad, Ravi Nekoo, Pushpa Ratnam and Datuk Ng See Teong, while prosecuting were deputy public prosecutors Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Saiful Edris Zainudin and Idham Abd Ghani. The other three accused were not represented.

http://www.youtube.com/v/d61tWeaQRTA&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3
After the charges were read, Amer told the court that counsel would like to speak to their client, as they had not had time to seek direction from him, and that they had only been allowed to see him twice, and only for a few minutes, since his arrest on Sept 11.

He also asked for the defence lawyers to be allowed to see the other three accused to help them get their counsel of choice, to which the magistrate replied:

“I am not getting involved in this. I am not an advertising agency. “Their family members should be aware of this, and they should contact the lawyers.”

The legal team: Leaving the courthouse in Banting are (from left) Pushpa, Amer Hamzah, Nekoo and Ng.
 
Amer told the court that their family members were not aware that they had been arrested.
Patmanabhan then addressed the court directly, and said that the others were not “legally savvy”, and that even if their family members were aware, they might not know how to get legal representation.

The other three accused also piped up that they would like to speak with Patmanabhan’s lawyers.
The court then allowed the defence lawyers 10 minutes to see their client and the three other accused, and ordered the prosecution to inform the family members of the charging.

The court fixed Dec 16 for mention of the case.

Related Stories:
Lawyer’s pals turn up to see him
Suspects being probed for disappearances
Continue earlier posts:
Matters we need to redress: Murder of cosmetic millionaire