Body in suitcase trial: CCTV clips prove accused lied to police

Left: An image from the Verdun-Syed Alwi junction. Ramzan said he was the one in black pulling the suitcase, while the man in white beside him was Rasheed. Right: An image from the Rowell-Kampong Kapor junction.
Above: An image from the Verdun-Syed Alwi junction. Ramzan said he was the one in black pulling the suitcase, while the man in white beside him was Rasheed. PHOTOS: COURT DOCUMENTS
Left: An image from the Verdun-Syed Alwi junction. Ramzan said he was the one in black pulling the suitcase, while the man in white beside him was Rasheed. Right: An image from the Rowell-Kampong Kapor junction.
Above: An image from the Rowell-Kampong Kapor junction.PHOTOS: COURT DOCUMENTS

He had initially claimed he did not help to overpower the victim or get rid of his body

After he was arrested for the murder of a compatriot, whose legless body was found in a suitcase in Little India, one of the two Pakistani suspects denied being involved in getting rid of the body.

Ramzan Rizwan claimed that he was at Geylang Serai Market selling tissue paper at the time.

But days later, police confronted him with surveillance footage which captured him and his accomplice, Rasheed Muhammad, with a suitcase.

It was then that Ramzan, 27, admitted he had lied, and told police he and Rasheed used a shirt to smother the victim, and how they bought a manual saw after an electric version could not cut the body.

Ramzan and Rasheed, 45, are on trial for murdering Mr Muhammad Noor, 59, at their lodging house in Rowell Road on June 11, 2014. All three had arrived here from Pakistan to sell tissue paper.

 

Prosecutors allege that Rasheed and Ramzan had killed the victim to recover money they lost to him in a game of cards.

The victim's upper body was found in a grey suitcase in Syed Alwi Road. After the duo's arrest, Rasheed led police to a black suitcase in the Jalan Kubor Muslim cemetery containing the legs.

In various police statements, Ramzan distanced himself from the killing and fingered the other man. While he admitted pressing a shirt over the victim's face, he said he ran away while Mr Muhammad Noor was still alive.

Ramzan said Rasheed later told him to go with him to buy a suitcase to dispose of the body, but he refused. Ramzan said the next morning, he left for Geylang Serai Market. Rasheed called him many times, asking him to return, but he said no. He said he did not know what Rasheed did to the victim.

But a surveillance camera at the junction of Verdun Road and Syed Alwi Road captured both men pulling a suitcase. About half an hour later, Ramzan was captured on another camera at the junction of Rowell Road and Kampong Kapor Road pulling a suitcase.

When he was shown still pictures of the footage, Ramzan changed his story in a statement on June 18, 2014.

The statement was admitted in court yesterday despite a challenge by his lawyer, Mr R.S. Bajwa, that it was not admissible as his client had been induced with the promise that he would not face the death sentence.

In this statement, Ramzan said that the part of his original story in which he said he had run out of the room was not true. He said he and Rasheed had overpowered the victim together - he pressed a shirt against the victim's face, while his older accomplice strangled the victim with a string.

Ramzan said the victim, who shared a room with Rasheed, shouted but they continued their attack until he stopped moving.

Ramzan said they found about $6,000 in the victim's pockets. He said Rasheed suggested that they take the amount they had lost to the victim. This meant Ramzan would take $1,100 and Rasheed, $3,000.

Ramzan said he wanted to share the money equally and told Rasheed to keep the money until they settled the issue.

Later that morning, Rasheed bought a suitcase and an electric saw from Mustafa Centre, he said.

Shortly afterwards, the duo went to another shop to buy a bigger manual saw because the electric saw could not cut the body.

Ramzan said Rasheed told him to help him cut the body but he replied he could not do it. Rasheed then told him to be a lookout.

He said he helped Rasheed pack the upper body into the suitcase. But they needed another bag for the legs, so both of them went to Mustafa to buy another suitcase.

After the room was cleaned, Ramzan chose to pull the suitcase containing the legs, which was lighter.

After leaving his suitcase at the cemetery, he went back to help with the heavier bag. But when blood dripped from the suitcase, they abandoned it and returned to their rooms. The trial continues.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'CCTV clips prove accused lied to police'. Print Edition | Subscribe