Kovan murders: Apex court reserves judgment

Iskandar, 37, was found guilty of killing car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42, at the older man's Hillside Drive house.
Iskandar, 37, was found guilty of killing car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42, at the older man's Hillside Drive house.

Ex-cop appeals against death sentence, says he killed in self-defence

The fate of former cop Iskandar Rahmat, who was sentenced to death for the Kovan double murder, continues to hang in the balance after judgment was yesterday reserved on his appeal.

He was found guilty last December of killing car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son Chee Heong, 42, on July 10, 2013, at the older man's Hillside Drive house.

Iskandar, 37, then escaped in the older victim's Toyota Camry. The son's body was caught under his father's car and was dragged for more than 1km.

At the hearing before the three Court of Appeal judges yesterday, his lawyer Wendell Wong relied on an argument that was raised earlier - that it was the father who attacked Iskandar first.

During the trial last year, Iskandar, who was facing bankruptcy, said he planned to only rob Mr Tan. He had found out that the victim kept a large amount of cash in a Certis Cisco safe deposit box, after Mr Tan lodged a police report about money being stolen from it.

To steal the remaining money, Iskandar posed as an intelligence officer. He persuaded Mr Tan to take out all his valuables, on the pretext of putting a surveillance camera inside the safe deposit box. He then offered to escort Mr Tan to his three-storey terraced house as he was carrying a lot of money. There, he killed the man.

But Iskandar said Mr Tan realised he was being tricked, became angry and attacked him with a knife. So, he slashed him in self defence.

Mr Wong yesterday said Mr Tan had reason to confront Iskandar as he stood to lose the $600,000 he had taken out from the safe deposit box. He said Mr Tan hid the money in the storeroom after he came home, and that suggested he had become suspicious of Iskandar.

The judges asked what could have alerted Mr Tan - who until then had been "comfortable" following Iskandar's instructions - to make him attack Iskandar with a knife.

Mr Wong suggested that Mr Tan's suspicions could have been raised during a phone conversation with his son when he was at home with Iskandar. The son left his office and drove to his father's house after the call.

Mr Wong urged the court to take a "holistic view" of "all the moving parts in the case", which did not gel with a plan to kill.

Besides, he knew "the wages of murder" was capital punishment, said Mr Wong.

The lawyer also tried to admit a forensic pathology report to support his contention that Iskandar suffered defensive injuries.

He also sought to admit a psychiatric report that showed Iskandar suffered from an acute stress reaction and an adjustment disorder at the time, and that qualified him for a defence of diminished responsibility.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Lit Cheng said the psychiatric report was not reliable as it was based on the "self-serving" account Iskandar gave to the defence psychiatrist. She added that Iskandar did not complain of any symptoms when he was interviewed by a government psychiatrist immediately after the killings.

Ms Lee said: "It's a clear case of double murder." She added that the multiple injuries suffered by both men showed that the attack was ferocious and intended to kill.

The apex court will give its decision at a later date.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2016, with the headline 'Kovan murders: Apex court reserves judgment'. Print Edition | Subscribe