Ship cleaner sentenced to death in Malaysia over millionaire's murder

JOHOR BARU - A 37-year-old ship cleaner has been sentenced to death by the High Court in Johor Baru for murdering a millionaire businessman three years ago.

Judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak said it had been proven beyond doubt that Izwanuddin Kassim killed Yong Boon Cheong, 54, at Jalan Skudai, Danga Bay between 6am and 7am on July 4, 2014.

Izwanuddin, who is married with two children and worked in Singapore, was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction, reported The New Straits Times.

He looked shocked when the decision was made by the court and was seen sobbing in the dock before being led out.

Yong's charred remains were found at an oil plantation in Batu Pahat about 24 hours after he was reported missing by his wife. The court said the events leading up to his murder began with a fight between Izwanuddin and Yong at the latter's house in Danga Bay over a car accident. Iznawuddin claimed that the damaged vehicle belonged to a member of the royal family.

"When the victim refused to pay, a fight broke out between the two men, which eventually led to them going to several other locations in their bid to settle the matter," said Judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak .

After the fight, the two men got into Mitsubishi Evo and went to a place which Izwanuddin claimed was Istana Pasir Pelangi, where they switched to a Jaguar and headed to Restoran Singgah Selalu, the court was told.

When Yong attempted to flee the restaurant, he was beaten up by Iznawuddin till he was bleeding from the face.

Subsequently, Iznawuddin called a Singaporean friend, Noriskandar Zainal Yahya, to help resolve the problem. The court was told that Noriskandar brought his girlfriend along to meet Iznawuddin at Singgah Selalu.

All four then rode in Noriskandar's Ford Ranger to drop off the girlfriend at Sultanah Aminah Hospital before heading towards Batu Pahat. At some point in their journey, it is believed that Yong was murdered.

"When accompanying his girlfriend out of the car at the hospital, Noriskandar left the other two men in the car. He claimed that Yong was still alive," said Judge Sofian.

"When Noriskandar returned to the Ford Ranger, he saw Yong lying down while leaning towards Izwanuddin in the back seat. Izwanuddin asked Noriskandar for a piece of cloth to place behind Yong's head," he said.

After arriving at an oil plantation in Batu Pahat, Yong's body was torched by Izwanuddin under a pile of old tyres, reported The News Straits Times.

The judge said that Yong died due from a stab wound, and that the wound's pattern was consistent with that of a brass knuckle blade belonging to Izwanuddin.

A total 28 witnesses were called during the trial that took more than two years.