Body in suitcase trial: Victim was smothered, neck injuries not fatal

Officers from the CID at the scene where the body of a man was found stuffed inside a suitcase, along Syed Alwi Road, on June 11, 2014.
Officers from the CID at the scene where the body of a man was found stuffed inside a suitcase, along Syed Alwi Road, on June 11, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A forensic pathologist told the High Court on Thursday (Nov 10) that a Pakistani man, whose legless body was found in a suitcase in Little India, was smothered to death.

Although there were injuries on the man's neck, these were inflicted when the victim was "dead or practically dead", said Associate Professor Gilbert Lau said.

He was testifying in the trial of two Pakistani nationals - Rasheed Muhammad, 45, and Ramzan Rizwan, 27 - accused of murdering their compatriot, 59-year-old Muhammad Noor. All three arrived here to sell tissue paper.

The victim's upper body was found in a grey suitcase on Syed Alwi Road, where the duo allegedly abandoned it after blood dripped out from the bag.

Prosecutors allege that Ramzan smothered the victim by pressing a shirt over his face while Rasheed strangled the victim with a string made of cloth.

Prof Lau said that a bruise on the victim's nose and abrasions on his cheek and lower jaw were consistent with pressure applied to his face, such as that caused by smothering.

 

The victim also had a series of abrasions on his neck and a fracture of his thyroid cartilage but the forensic pathologist said the this did not cause his death, citing the absence of bleeding.

Rasheed's lawyer, Mr Wong Siew Hong, noted that his client's account that he had put his hands around the victim's neck were consistent with a cluster of five abrasions found in the area. Prof Lau said he did consider this.

In Rasheed's police statements, he gave a version of events which differed with Ramzan's account. Ramzan had fingered his older accomplice as the one who led the attack.

But Rasheed said Ramzan was the one who had suddenly attacked the victim. He said Ramzan told him to hold the victim. He said he complied because Ramzan was a drug addict and after seeing his "bloodshot eyes", Rasheed said he was scared that the younger man would harm him. After his arrest, Ramzan tested positive for cannabis.

And while Ramzan told police that Rasheed was the one who sawed the victim's legs off, Rasheed's account is that he did it together with Ramzan.

The trial continues next Tuesday.