PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has been asked to correct a lower court’s finding that a fire that broke out at Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan’s home on the night he died was “not accidental”.
Lawyer Shafee Abdullah said the record must be rectified although the trial judge’s ultimate decision to acquit the deceased’s widow, Samirah Muzaffar, and two teenage boys was correct.
The trio’s lead counsel said the matter must be put right as his clients have a right to clear their names.
“This court must maintain the verdict. They come from a well-known family and this trial has generated a lot of publicity.
“There will be a miscarriage of justice due to public misconception,” he told the three-member bench led by Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
Also on the panel were Justices Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim and Azhahari Kamal Ramli.
Shafee said that since the appeal is a rehearing, the bench has power under the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994 to do more than merely uphold the verdict of the trial judge.
He was submitting on Samirah and the teenagers’ cross-appeal filed to challenge certain findings of fact made in connection with Nazrin’s death.
The main appeal was brought by the prosecution in a bid to overturn the trio’s acquittal and order them to enter their defence to a charge of murder.
Samirah and the boys were challenging the High Court’s findings that the fire that broke out in Nazrin’s room on June 14, 2018 was “not accidental”.
Today, Shafee told the three-member bench that the purpose of the cross-appeal was to expunge those remarks by the trial judge.
“We are worried about the finding by the trial judge that the deceased’s death is not accidental,” he said.
Despite the finding, the High Court acquitted the trio of murder.
Justice Ab Karim Ab Rahman held that the prosecution had failed to make out a prima facie case as there was no direct evidence to implicate the accused.
Karim also said he accepted the testimony of Kuala Lumpur fire and rescue department director Edwin Galan Teruki and investigating officer Halim Zulkefeli that the fire had been deliberately ignited.
He said he also accepted the evidence of Dr Prashant Samberkar, who testified that the cause of death was Nazrin’s head injury which was the result of “multiple blunt (force) impact to the head”.
Prashant was the second pathologist to conduct a post-mortem on Nazrin’s remains.
Samirah, 47, the two teenagers, now aged 19 and 16, and Indonesian maid Eka Wahyu Lestari, who is at large, had been charged with murdering Nazrin at their home in Mutiara Damansara on June 14, 2018.
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Rahmat Hazlan called for the appellate court to disregard the evidence of chemist Aznor Sheda Samsuddin from the fire and rescue department as it was incomplete.
He added that the laboratory she worked in was not accredited.
Aznor had testified that there were traces of petrol in Nazrin’s room, although three chemists – N Sivabalan, B Govindra Raj and V Renuka – from the chemistry department contradicted her findings.
The prosecution will tender its submissions in reply on Sept 19.