By V. Anbalagan | Free Malaysia Today

The Federal Court today affirmed the death sentence of three men, including a former lawyer, for the murder of cosmetics millionaire Sosilawati Lawiya and her three aides.

However the five-man bench led by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria allowed the appeal by farmworker R. Mathan, 25.

“There is insufficient evidence to link him to the murders,” said Arifin who delivered the judgment.

The top judge, who will retire at the end of the month, said the prosecution only adduced evidence that he arranged logs in the farm a day before the murder.

“It is unsafe to rely on that piece of evidence to convict him,” said Arifin, adding that the High Court should have acquitted Mathan without calling for his defence.

Arifin said Mathan, represented by Amer Hamzah Arshad, also did not lead police to discover any incriminating evidence.

As for the other three, former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan, 46, and farmhands T. Thilaiyalagan, 24, and R. Kathavarayan, 36, Arifin said there was overwhelming evidence linking them to the crime.

“The circumstantial evidence was strong and the three also gave police information leading to the discovery of evidence,” he said.

Moreover, he said their conduct also proved they had a hand in the crime.

The court also dismissed the alibi notice of Pathmanaban who claimed he was not at the crime scene.

The trio murdered Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and Sosilawati’s driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.

All three could file a petition for clemency to the Selangor Pardons Board to commute the death sentence to imprisonment.

They committed the offence at Lot 2001, Jalan Tanjong Layang, Tanjung Sepat, in Banting between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on Aug 30, 2010.

The Shah Alam High Court found all four guilty in May 2013 while the Court of Appeal affirmed the findings in December 2015.

Sosilawati and the three aides were reported missing after they allegedly went to Banting over a land deal.

Government lawyer Saiful Edris Zainuddin had submitted that it was true the body of the victims were never found but it did not mean that it was the end of the matter.

Saiful said Sosilawati’s daughter Erni Dekriwati Yuliana Buhari had testified that her mother was going to Banting to meet Pathmanabhan to bring forward payments on two cheques totalling RM4 million.

He said Sosilawati needed the money to pay bonuses to her staff and to give her family, in view of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

Sosilawati left her office in Kuala Lumpur in a car with her driver and the two other deceased travelled in another vehicle.

Saiful said Pathmanabhan, however, had insufficient funds in his bank account to repay Sosilawati.

“This created a tremendous amount of pressure on Pathmanabhan to come up with such a big amount of money and the solution he chose was to get rid of Sosilawati and her friends,” he said.

Saiful said Pathmanabhan failed to explain as to how he could have honoured the payments because his bank accounts were not frozen.

He said the testimony of senior chemist Lim Kong Boon was admissible as he was experienced and academically qualified in the area of DNA examination and analysis.

The bench agreed with the submission of the prosecution.