By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

The Court of Appeal has maintained the murder conviction against former pathologist Dr R. Kunaseegaran and five other men over Deputy Public Prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais’ death nine years ago.

A three-person bench chaired by Hadhariah Syed Ismail this morning unanimously upheld the guilty verdict against Kunaseegaran, 61; S. Ravi Chandaran, 53; R. Dinishwaran, 32; A. K. Thinesh Kumar, 31; M. Vishwanath, 34; and S. Nimalan, 31.

Hadhariah said the six men’s defence of not knowing Morais, having no motive, and being good people were mere afterthoughts.

She ruled that the crime was extraordinary and the six men deserved the death penalty.

Hadhariah also ruled that the trial judge in the lower court had not erred in law and fact when issuing the guilty verdict and death sentence.

The appellate court judge said Kunaseegaran had a motive to murder the DPP, adding that the other five accused were accomplices in the killing.

Kunaseegaran not only knew Morais, she said, but also had emotional and financial problems linked to the victim as the deceased was the DPP in a corruption case and other cases against the appellant.

“The murder was planned with precision. The deceased’s body showed the brutality committed by all the accused.

“It was not enough for them to kill him, they also burnt his car and disposed of his personal belongings.

“This was an extraordinary murder and the sentence of death by hanging is appropriate,” Hadhariah said on behalf of fellow appellate bench member judges Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim and Azmi Ariffin.

Some of the evidence presented during the murder trial in 2016

On July 10, 2020, the Kuala Lumpur High Court convicted and sentenced the six men to death over Morais’ murder five years earlier.

Morais’ body was found in a barrel filled with concrete on Sept 16, 2015, in Subang Jaya. A total of 84 witnesses, including 14 defence witnesses, testified in the trial that began on April 6, 2016.

The six accused were charged under section 302 of the Penal Code, which at the time carried the mandatory death penalty.

The government abolished the mandatory death penalty last year, making it an optional sentence for murder and other certain offences.

Alternative charge

G. Gunasekaran was initially charged alongside the other six accused.

However, on Dec 20, 2016, the High Court allowed the prosecution’s application to withdraw the murder charge against Gunasekaran.

Instead, the 56-year-old pleaded guilty to an alternative charge under section 201 of the Penal Code for disposing of Morais’ body.

While serving a two-year jail sentence for the alternative charge, Gunasekaran testified for the prosecution against the six men. He was released from prison after serving his term in January 2017.

During the trial, the issue of the possible motive behind Morais’ murder was raised by the prosecution, namely that it was linked to the deceased’s role in a separate case against alleged mastermind Kunaseegaran at the Shah Alam courts.

Ex-pathologist Dr R. Kunaseegaran

Counsel N. Sivananthan represented Kunaseegaran.

Lawyers M. Manoharan, Burhanudeen Abdul Wahid, Afifuddin Ahmad Hafifi, Amer Hamzah Arshad, and Kitson Foong appeared for Dinishwaran, Thinesh, Vishwanath, Nimalan, and Ravi respectively.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar led the prosecution.