Two men from Pakistan, who came to Singapore to sell tissue paper, were yesterday sentenced to hang for murdering a compatriot to recover money that they had lost to him in a game of cards.
The duo, Rasheed Muhammad, 46, and Ramzan Rizwan, 28, took $6,000 from the victim after smothering him, and then sawed off his legs to pack his remains into two suitcases.
Each blamed the other for killing 59-year-old Muhammad Noor at their Rowell Road lodging house on June 11, 2014.
But the High Court concluded that the duo - who were caught on surveillance footage going together to buy suitcases and saws - had acted as a team in carrying out their common intention to kill the victim and rob him of his money.
"It seems clear that robbery was the motive to kill, as the money found on both accused persons shows," said Justice Choo Han Teck.
Ramzan was found with $3,318, while Rasheed had $5,745 on him. Ramzan claimed that his share of the loot was $1,100.
Said Justice Choo: "The motives were common; the plan required two persons... I do not think that one man alone could have carried out the dismemberment of Muhammad Noor's body."
Rasheed and Ramzan were calm after their death sentence was passed, and spoke briefly to their assigned lawyers - Mr Wong Siew Hong and Mr R. S. Bajwa, respectively - and a representative from the Pakistani High Commission.
The killing came to light when an 81-year-old man made a grisly find in Syed Alwi Road - a grey suitcase containing the victim's legless body.
Several passers-by tried to help him push the bag, but when they learnt there was a body inside, one of them called the police.
Investigations led police to the lodging house, and the duo were arrested the next day.
Rasheed later led police to a black suitcase containing the victim's legs at the Jalan Kubor Muslim cemetery.
During the five-day trial, the court heard that Rasheed and the victim were roommates at the lodging house. Ramzan arrived later and lodged in another room. All were in Singapore to sell tissue paper.
Rasheed said Ramzan was the one who wanted to kill the victim. He said he was forced to help because Ramzan had threatened to harm his family, and that it was Ramzan who smothered the victim.
Ramzan's version was that when he went to Mr Muhammad Noor's room to plead for the return of his money, Rasheed suddenly smothered the victim with a shirt. Ramzan said he took over the smothering on the instructions of Rasheed, who strangled the victim with a string. He said the victim was still alive when he ran out of the room in fear.
An autopsy confirmed that the victim was smothered; while there were marks on his neck, he was most likely dead by the time he was strangled.
Rasheed and Ramzan later went to buy a suitcase and two saws.
They then sawed off the victim's legs and stuffed his upper body in the bag, before going out to buy another bag for the legs.
Ramzan pulled the bag with the legs to the cemetery before returning to help Rasheed with the other bag.
But one of the wheels on the suitcase broke and the duo abandoned the bag when blood dripped out as they tried to lift it.
Yesterday, Justice Choo said he did not believe that Rasheed was threatened into helping Ramzan, who is 18 years his junior. If Rasheed had wanted no part in the plan, he could have simply walked away from the room, said the judge.
The judge also did not believe Ramzan's claim that he was outside the room during the murder.