Kovan murder trial verdict on Dec 4

Iskandar Rahmat does not dispute the killings but he insists that he killed in self-defence in a sudden fight.
Iskandar Rahmat does not dispute the killings but he insists that he killed in self-defence in a sudden fight.

One issue before court is ex-cop's intention in knifing father and son multiple times

The verdict in the trial for a double murder in Kovan was set for Dec 4 after closing statements yesterday.

Policeman Iskandar Rahmat, 36, is accused of murdering car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42, at the older man's Hillside Drive house on the afternoon of July 10, 2013.

Iskandar, who was debt-laden and had planned to rob Mr Tan, does not dispute the killings.

But he insists the older man first came at him with a knife, and that he stabbed and slashed the victim after wresting the knife away. And when the son stepped into the house and charged at him with clenched fists, he retaliated, swinging his knife wildly.

One issue before High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang is Iskandar's intention in knifing the victims multiple times. He must also decide if Iskandar can plead self-defence and sudden fight as defences to murder.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lau Wing Yum urged Justice Tay to convict Iskandar of murder with intention to kill under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death penalty.

The DPP argued that the number, nature and location of the knife wounds - mostly in the vital areas of the head, neck and chest - "lead to the irresistible and necessary inference" that Iskandar had intended to kill both men.

He argued that Iskandar had failed to adequately explain why he inflicted 23 knife wounds on the older Mr Tan, a man twice his age with serious knee problems, as well as 17 on the younger Mr Tan, who was almost 30kg lighter than him.

The DPP's case is that Iskandar wanted to silence them so that they would not identify him.

He argued that Iskandar must have intended to kill the older Mr Tan from the outset and had taken along the knife. Even if that was not how it began, he formed such an intention when his plan ran into a series of hitches that compromised his identity.

The DPP dismissed Iskandar's version of events by pointing out inconsistencies between his account and the objective evidence.

One example is a bloody trail of his sock prints from the living room to a toilet. Iskandar said he was looking for a towel for his injured hand after killing both men.

But the prosecution's case, based on the fact that the trail contained only the elderly man's blood, is that he walked around the house to search for the money after killing the father, before the son arrived.

Iskandar's lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, urged the court to accept his client's account that he killed in self-defence in a sudden fight, and to convict him of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

If the court rejects these defences, Mr Nathan argued for Iskandar to be convicted of murder under Section 300(c) instead.

Under this provision, for murder with the intention of causing bodily injury that would ordinarily lead to death, the court can impose life imprisonment and caning instead of the death penalty.

Mr Nathan argued that a large number of injuries did not mean an intention to kill. He noted that there was absolutely no evidence that Iskandar had armed himself and the benefit of doubt must be given to him. He pointed out that if Iskandar had been searching the house, his sock prints would be in all directions but in this case, they were in a linear path.

"I'm not asking you to acquit him of murder. He knows he has killed two people. He knows he has to suffer the consequences," he told the court. "He did intend to cause injuries to get away from them... He never intended to kill them."

Highlights from the closing submissions: http://str.sg/ZRYC

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Kovan murder trial verdict on Dec 4'. Print Edition | Subscribe