Jail, caning for Zam Zam Restaurant ex-director who masterminded attack on rival eatery's supervisor

Zackeer Abbass Khan was also convicted of criminal intimidation. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former director of Singapore Zam Zam restaurant in North Bridge Road, who masterminded a 2015 attack against a supervisor of rival eatery Victory restaurant next door, was sentenced on Monday (May 11) to six years' jail and six strokes of the cane.

Before sentencing Zackeer Abbass Khan, District Judge Mathew Joseph said the case was a reminder that one should not allow one's anger to cloud one's judgment as the "resulting consequences can be severe".

The judge also said there was "no place in our society for gratuitous violence."

In March, Judge Joseph found Zackeer, 49, and former safety officer Anwer Ambiya Kadir Maideen, 50, guilty of one count each of engaging in a conspiracy to cause grievous hurt to Mr Liakath Ali Mohamed Ibrahim with a weapon. The attack took place at around 10pm on Aug 26, 2015.

He also convicted Zackeer of criminal intimidation as he had threatened to injure Mr Liakath, then 52, on Aug 22 that year.

On Monday, Anwer also admitted to being a senior member of a secret society. He had joined the gang in 1990 and was a "fighter" there. Judge Joseph then sentenced him to a total of 5½ years' jail.

Zackeer and Anwer were the last two people involved in the case to be convicted. Others, including secret society member Joshua Navindran Surainthiran, who was 23 when he slashed Mr Liakath, have already been dealt with in court.

In November 2016, Joshua was sentenced to 6½ years' jail and six strokes of the cane for the slashing and other offences.

In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Wen Hsien and Claire Poh stated that the "genesis of this ill-will" could be traced to 2005 when Zackeer and Mr Liakath were business partners.

The court heard that after the business failed, Mr Liakath joined Victory Restaurant in 2014 and created problems for Zam Zam by pulling customers away and reporting its staff to the authorities.

The DPPs added: "Things came to a head on Aug 22, 2015, when the police arrived at the restaurants to advise them to refrain from touting. Zackeer believed that this was a set-up by the victim, and that he ratted on Zam Zam employees to the police.

"Incensed, Zackeer threatened the victim that he would hit or kill him within a week."

Zackeer later asked Anwer to arrange an attack on Mr Liakath and offered money to get the job done.

The court heard that Joshua, in his statements to the authorities, had said Anwer called him on Aug 23, 2015, and offered him $2,000 to slash Mr Liakath's face.

At around 10pm three days later, Joshua confronted Mr Liakath at a bridge between Rochor Canal Road and Sungei Road and slashed his face with a knife.

Mr Liakath suffered a 7-cm cut over his right upper lip, which extended to his right cheek, and a part of the cut went through to the inner surface of the lip.

He is now left with a permanent scar.

The DPPs said that, after the slashing, Zackeer handed $2,000 to Anwer to pay Joshua. Anwer transferred $1,700 to Joshua's bank account. He had given Joshua $200 as initial payment on Aug 23, 2015.

Joshua, Anwer and Zackeer were arrested on Sept 21, 2015, the court heard.

Mr Liakath, who suffered deep cuts to his nose and right upper lip in the attack, is now left with a permanent scar. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Defence lawyer Peter Keith Fernando, who represented Anwer, told the court on Monday that his client has been an inactive member of the secret society for some time.

Anwer, who also addressed the court, told Judge Joseph that he was remorseful and wanted to mend his ways.

He was offered bail of $60,000 and ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on July 6 to begin serving his jail term.

Zackeer's lawyer, Mr Sarbrinder Singh, said his client had not committed a gang-related offence and stressed that Joshua had not acted on instructions from a gang.

Zackeer intends to appeal against the judge's decisions and his bail has been set at $75,000.

For playing a role to voluntarily cause grievous hurt with a weapon, an offender can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined or caned. Anwer cannot be caned as he is 50 years old.

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