KUALA LUMPUR: Describing the trial pertaining to the murder of cosmetics millionairess Sosilawati Lawiya and her three aides as his most memorable case as a judge, Arifin Zakaria said the Federal Court relied entirely on circumstantial evidence to convict three men, including a former lawyer.
The chief justice said the Sosilawati murder trial was only the second, after the Sunny Ang Soo Suan murder case in 1965, which the court had relied upon circumstantial evidence to convict the accused without finding the body of the victim.
“Of course, the last case we had was the murder of Sosilawati. It was quite memorable in many ways because a lot of accused were involved and historical in the sense that this was the second case after Sunny Ang where we relied entirely on circumstantial evidence. The police never recovered the (Sosilawati’s) body, just like the Sunny Ang case.
“So, it was historical in that sense and (it) happened to be my last criminal case, as well,” he said when asked what his most memorable case was, as a judge.
The question was posed to Arifin at a press conference after the launch of his book entitled, ‘Justice Above All, Selected Judgments of Tun Arifin Zakaria With Commentaries’, by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah at a hotel here today.
In the Sunny Ang case, he was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend whose body was never found.
On March 16, The Federal Court upheld the conviction and death sentence of former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan, 47, and two of his farm hands, but acquitted one of the appellants over the murder of Sosilawati and her three aides nearly seven years ago.
The two farm hands are T. Thilaiyalagan, 25, and R. Kathavarayan, 37.
In its judgement, a five-man panel chaired by Arifin said there was overwhelming evidence to show that Sosilawati and her three aides were murdered at Pathmanabhan’s farm in Banting.
The panel, which also comprised Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and federal court judges Suriyadi Halim Omar, Azahar Mohamed and Zaharah Ibrahim, however, acquitted the other appellant, R. Matan, 26, on grounds of insufficient evidence to implicate him to the murder.
On May 23, 2013, the four men were sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court for murdering Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and Sosilawati’s driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.
Sosilawati and the three aides went missing after reportedly going to Banting for a land deal.
Their disappearance made headlines nationwide.