Woman had 'died from fear', claimed Bangladeshi on trial for abduction and rape

Pramanik Liton, a Bangladeshi construction worker accused of the rape of a Chinese national at MacRitchie Reservoir,  gave his own version of events that transpired,
Pramanik Liton, a Bangladeshi construction worker accused of the rape of a Chinese national at MacRitchie Reservoir, gave his own version of events that transpired,PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- In an incredulous turn of events, a Bangladeshi construction worker who was on trial for the alleged abduction and rape of a woman at knife-point two years ago, said she had died from fear.

Taking the stand on Thursday (May 18), the third day of the trial, Pramanik Liton, 24, denied the charges and gave his own version of events that transpired on the afternoon of Feb 8, 2015, at a MacRitchie Reservoir trail.

He claimed he chased the 39-year-old Chinese national into the forested area off the trail and scared her to death. "I tried to scare her by shouting and screaming, after that the girl passed away," he said through a Bengali interpreter.

This is despite the fact that the woman, who cannot be named due to a gag order, had testified against him behind closed doors two days ago.

Liton faces two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration, and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.

Earlier, the court heard that he was arrested at his worksite two days following the incident after his fingerprint was lifted from a folding knife found by a Gurkha tracker in the forest.

His semen was also found on the woman's panties, swabs taken from her body, and tissue paper recovered from the crime scene, which was 14m off the trail.

On Thursday (May 18), he denied raping the woman and frightening her with a knife. He said he had scared her by shouting and screaming and left her in the forest.

During cross-examination, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan put forth earlier statements he had given the police and an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychiatrist. However he claimed he did not make them.

In the police statement, he said he used a knife to frighten the woman to have sex with him. He had also told the IMH doctor he had found the knife months prior to the incident.

In her submissions, DPP Tan said the victim was an "unusually convincing witness" having given a detailed account of the alleged abduction and rape.

"The accused's evidence has vacillated from admission to the offence... to claiming (during trial) that he was not at the scene."

She added: "His evidence in court simply can't stand up to the objective evidence that has been adduced in the course of this trial."

A psychiatric assessment done at Changi Prison's Complex Medical Centre found that Liton was not suffering from mental illness.

The punishment for aggravated rape is between eight and 20 years' jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane. The verdict will be delivered on Friday (May 19).