SINGAPORE - A man who was charged with the murder of a 19-year-old woman who went missing on June 30, 2007, was on Monday (June 27) given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for the murder charge.
But Ahmad Danial Mohamed Rafa’ee, 37, is expected to plead guilty next week to unlawfully depositing the corpse of Ms Felicia Teo Wei Ling in a public place.
Those granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal can still be prosecuted for the related crime if relevant information or evidence were to emerge later.
Court documents did not disclose how Ms Teo, 19, died and who was responsible for her death.
Thirteen years after she went missing, Ahmad was accused of killing her in a flat at Block 19 Marine Terrace.
Another man, Mr Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, then 18, was also allegedly involved and the prosecution called for such a discharge for Ahmad as Mr Ragil, an Indonesian, is still at large.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and R. Arvindren said the prosecution is still waiting for Mr Ragil's arrest.
They told District Judge Eugene Teo: "Authorities have made and continue to make reasonable efforts to trace the co-accused. The Indonesian authorities have been informed and they are in the process of tracing (him).
"This is not a case where police have been trying for many years to trace the co-accused. The tracing of him only began after the accused was arrested 1½ years ago and new facts came to light during the investigations."
There is also no evidence that Mr Ragil is dead, said the DPPs.
Ahmad is represented by lawyers Shashi Nathan, Tania Chin and Laura Yeo from Withers KhattarWong.
On Monday, Mr Nathan urged the court to grant Ahmad a discharge amounting to an acquittal, which would mean he cannot be charged again with the same offence.
The lawyer said the prosecution's proposal would mean his client would have a murder charge hanging over him indefinitely.
He added: "They are not just asking for a pound of flesh. They want you to lay your head on a wooden board and wait for the guillotine to fall."
The lawyer said Ahmad and his family had gone through a terrible time, and his wife had to move out of her home as people had been bothering her.
He said Ms Teo's body had not been found, noting the authorities had instead found a skull fragment where Ahmad allegedly left her corpse around Punggol Track 24 on or around June 30, 2007.
Mr Nathan said the prosecution had told him they wanted to send the fragment to the United States for mitochondrial testing, which could involve DNA-related tests.
The lawyer said he had not received any updates on the matter.
Judge Teo granted Ahmad a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
He noted Mr Nathan's concerns about having the murder charge hanging over Ahmad, and added he had sympathies on the matter.
The judge said there may be a review in the future and accepted the prosecution's case.
He said: "Based on what we have now, I agree there is no basis for granting an outright discharge amounting to an acquittal."
Ahmad was handed six more charges on Monday and Mr Ragil is named in all of them.
The pair allegedly deposited Ms Teo's corpse around Punggol Track 24 on or around June 30, 2007 and allegedly misappropriated some of her belongings like her mobile phone.
They also allegedly intentionally omitted to furnish information about Ms Teo's sudden or unnatural death to the authorities even though they were legally bound to do so.
On June 30, 2007, they allegedly fabricated false evidence by placing her mobile phone around East Coast Park.
And either one or both of them allegedly made calls to Ms Teo's mobile phone to create the false impression they believed she was alive even though they knew she had already died.
In July 2007, the men allegedly gave false information to two police officers by claiming they did not know what had happened to her after she left the Marine Terrace flat the previous month.
Ahmad, who had been in remand since his arrest in 2020, was offered bail of $20,000 on Monday.
He is expected to plead guilty to his latest charges on July 6.
Ahmad and Mr Ragil were believed to have been the last to see Ms Teo alive when she went to the Marine Terrace flat that night.
The three are said to have been friends and studied at Lasalle College of the Arts, according to their online profiles.
Ms Teo's family last saw her on June 29, 2007, when she left her home in Bras Basah.
Closed-circuit television footage later showed her entering a lift in a Marine Terrace housing block with two men.
The police said previously they had classified the case as a missing persons case in 2007 as they had found no facts to link the two men to Ms Teo's disappearance.
After years of review, the case was referred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 2020.
A breakthrough came after the CID found belongings believed to have been with Ms Teo when she was reported missing.
Ahmad was arrested and he was charged with murder on Dec 17, 2020.
Offenders convicted of murder face the death sentence.