SINGAPORE - Ex-cop Iskandar Rahmat and one of the men he is accused of killing were seen in the same car on the day of the murder, a witness said on Tuesday (Oct 20), the first day of the trial.
Taking the stand at the High Court in the late afternoon, the witness, Mr Hor Boon Long, told the court that he was in his black Audi at a Shell petrol station near the Certis Cisco Centre in Paya Lebar when car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin's silver Toyota Camry cut in ahead of him in a queue of cars exiting the petrol station to the road.
Mr Hor got out of his car and knocked on the door of Mr Tan's car, asking him why he cut the queue. Mr Tan apologised in English, saying sorry three times. The witness said that he saw Iskandar, a passenger in the car, staring at him.
The encounter took place shortly before the murder.
Iskandar, 36, is accused of the double murder of Mr Tan, 67, and his elder son Tan Chee Heong, 42, in Kovan on July 10, 2013.
According to earlier reports, the accused was believed to have been in touch with the elder Mr Tan on a regular basis after the latter made a police report about a case of theft from his safe deposit box at the Certis Cisco Centre in November 2012.
Iskandar had handled the initial report made by Mr Tan. Even though he was not the investigation officer of the case, he would call the victim every few weeks to update him on the theft, said earlier reports.
On Tuesday afternoon, the elder Mr Tan's wife, Madam Ong Ah Tang, also took the stand. Sounding emotional as she described her late husband, Madam Ong said that Mr Tan was a loving husband and was never violent, even when they quarrelled.
He was a man she could entrust her life to, she said.
The hearing, which ended at 5.30pm on Tuesday, has been adjourned to Thursday (Oct 22).
Earlier on Tuesday, Iskandar, clad in a standard issue beige prison jacket and sporting black-rimmed glasses, was escorted by guards into the courtroom at around 9.50am. He appeared calm, conferring with his lawyer briefly before taking his seat and glancing around the courtroom.
About 50 members of the public and at least 20 journalists were in attendance, with five family members of the victims - including the older Mr Tan's son and daughter - also present.
In his opening statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lau Wing Yum said Iskandar had planned to rob the older Mr Tan as he was facing imminent bankruptcy and possible dismissal from the Singapore Police Force.
Iskandar was over $60,000 in debt, DPP Lau added, and OCBC Bank had filed a bankruptcy petition against him. He had been due to pay a $50,000 settlement on July 10, 2013, the date of the murders.
According to DPP Lau, Iskandar carried out a "ruthless attack" on the two men - the older Mr Tan suffered 20 knife wounds, while his son suffered at least 11.
Iskandar also "deliberately reversed" the older Mr Tan's Toyota Camry into his son.
The case, which sparked shock and disbelief among Singaporeans that an officer of the law had been implicated, has generated much public interest.
Iskandar's trial is scheduled over two tranches, with Justice Tay Yong Kwang is set to hear testimonies from over 100 witnesses.
The first tranche, which sees mainly witnesses of fact take the stand, is due to last till the end of October. The second tranche will involve forensic pathologists, psychiatrists and other experts, and will run from March 29 to April 8 next year.
Iskandar was charged under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty. It is the most serious form of murder in which there is intention to cause death.
The elder Mr Tan had been found dead in his Hillside Drive terrace home on the afternoon of July 10.
The body of Mr Tan's eldest son, Chee Heong, 42, was dragged under the Toyota Camry for a distance before becoming dislodged near Kovan MRT station.
And even as the grisly details of the twin deaths emerged, a massive manhunt for their killer had already ensued.
Iskandar, then 34 and a senior staff sergeant attached to the Bedok Police Division, was nabbed at a popular restaurant in Johor Bahru, more than two days after the murder.
He has been remanded in custody ever since.