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Sosilawati murder: Sentence increased from 7 to 20 years

Contributed by Anonymous on Monday, February 21 @ 08:47:11 CST

Community
NST, 2011/02/21, By Jennifer Gomez, news@nst.com.my

SHAH ALAM: The jail sentence for two accused who pleaded guilty to disposing evidence in the Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya's murder case was increased from 7 years to 20 years by the High Court on appeal by the two against their 7 years jail sentence handed down by the judge. Judge Datuk Mohtaruddin Baki revised the decision of the magistrate, which was 7 years for each of the four counts to run concurrently, to 5 years for each count, to run consecutively


The Telok Datok Magistrate's Court in Banting had on Oct 15 sentenced K. Sarawanan, 20, and U. Suresh, 27, to seven years for each count of disposing of evidence, but ordered the terms to run concurrently.
Magistrate Hurmain Hussain made the decision after they pleaded guilty of burning the bodies of Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Norhisham Mohammad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44, and disposing the ashes.
Sarawanan is said to have committed the offence in Jalan Tanjung Layang Tanjung Sepat Banting on Aug 30 while Suresh disposed evidence at Sungai Panchau in Jalan Morib Banting on Aug 31.

Sarawanan appealed to the High Court against conviction and sentence while Suresh made no appeal.
The High Court, using powers provided under the Criminal Procedure Code to review the lower court's decision, enhanced the sentences of both.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Ishak Mohd Yusof, Saiful Edris Zainuddin and Idham Abd Ghani prosecuted while A.S. Dhaliwal appeared for Sarawan and Suresh, who was also represented by Datuk Harpal Grewal.

In his judgement, Mohtaruddin rejected Sarawanan's allegation that he had been forced to plead guilty.
Mohtaruddin said the proceeding under a magistrate was only a "summary trail" and the two accused had admitted guilt with understanding of the nature and consequence of their plea.

Mohtaruddin regarded as extreme the allegations in the affidavit against the Tamil interpreter, lawyers representing the accused and the magistrate.

He said the allegation that the interpreter had not explained the charge, the nature and consequence of a guilty plea, and the facts of the case was frivolous.

Sarawanan in the affidavit complained that he and Suresh had not chosen their lawyers, but neither accused had objected when counsel were appointed for them, Mohtaruddin said.

In rejecting the appeal, he said: "I see no illegality, impropriety or incorrectness in the record of proceedings by the learned magistrate and there was no miscarriage of justice."

Mohtaruddin, however, found that the magistrate had erred in sentencing.

Under the Lower Court Act 1948, Mohtaruddin said, a magistrate could only impose the maximum seven years for a count of disposing of evidence if the accused had a previous conviction or antecedent.

Since the accused had no previous conviction, the magistrate had probably considered three of the four counts of disposing of evidence as antecedents, he said.

Considering that the offence was very serious, Mohtaruddin said, five years in prison for burning the bodies of four murder victims and disposing the ashes was "manifestly inadequate."

He, therefore, ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

Dhaliwal, representing both accused, said he will appeal the decision.

Agencies


 
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