Body in suitcase trial

Body in suitcase trial: Alleged accomplice ‘pressured’ me: Accused

Rasheed Muhammad (left) and Ramzan Rizwan are accused of killing Mr Muhammad Noor, allegedly to recover money both men lost to the victim in a game of cards.
Rasheed Muhammad (left) and Ramzan Rizwan are accused of killing Mr Muhammad Noor, allegedly to recover money both men lost to the victim in a game of cards.TNP FILE PHOTO

A Pakistani man accused of murdering his compatriot, and then sawing off his legs, yesterday said he was "pressured" by his alleged accomplice to commit the crime.

Rasheed Muhammad, 45, said he had no reason to kill 59-year-old Muhammad Noor, who he described as a long-time friend.

Rasheed said Ramzan Rizwan, 27, was the mastermind behind the crime, and he had threatened to harm Rasheed's family if he did not "support" him.

Testifying through an Urdu interpreter, Rasheed admitted that he lost money gambling with the victim, but said he managed to recoup his losses before the victim died. Rasheed said Ramzan had told him that he would "do anything" to get his money back.

Mr Muhammad Noor was smothered to death on June 11, 2014 at a lodging house in Rowell Road, allegedly to recover money both men lost to him in a game of cards.

They allegedly sawed off his legs after killing him, and packed the limbs in a suitcase, which they left in a Muslim cemetery.

They dumped another suitcase containing the rest of his body in Syed Alwi Road, where it was found several hours later.

Testifying through an Urdu interpreter, Rasheed admitted that he lost money gambling with the victim, but said he managed to recoup his losses before the victim died.

Rasheed said Ramzan had told him that he would "do anything" to get his money back.

In the early hours of June 11, Rasheed said, Ramzan came to the room he shared with Mr Muhammad Noor and suddenly covered the victim's face with a shirt. He said Ramzan told him to hold the victim's legs, and later, his neck.

He also followed Ramzan's instructions to strangle the victim with a string, he added.

When his assigned lawyer, Mr Wong Siew Hong, asked why he did not stop Ramzan, Rasheed said: "That was my mistake. Had I only feared God and not let him do that, rather than fear him and comply with what he asked me to do."

Rasheed said he was so scared that he later went to a nearby mosque, where he prayed and cried.

When asked about a small electric saw he bought later that morning at Mustafa Centre, Rasheed said it was meant for a friend back home who owned a shoe factory.

However, Mr R. S. Bajwa, the assigned lawyer acting for Ramzan, disputed Rasheed's account.

Mr Bajwa contended that his client did not threaten Rasheed. He said his client's version is that Rasheed was the one who started smothering the victim and asked the younger man to help him.

According to Ramzan's account, he took over the smothering while Rasheed tried to strangle the victim with a string. The lawyer said Ramzan stopped what he was doing when he heard the victim's shouts and tried to stop the older man too but failed. Ramzan ran out of the room while the victim was still alive, the lawyer added.

Rasheed said Ramzan's version were "lies".

The trial continues.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Alleged accomplice 'pressured' me: Accused '. Print Edition | Subscribe