I was amazed to read that Datuk Mustapha Abdullah, the city police chief considers the Noritta Samsudin murder case closed. (Click here and here for some articles)
In July 2004, one En Hanif Basree Abd Rahman was acquitted and discharged by the court on the murder of Noritta. Of course, the months leading up to that ruling made for gross reading in the local newspapers… Early on I decided to just not read the papers, as it was obvious that the murder victim, who seems to have been a high-class callgirl, was the one being judged. I’m certain I did the right thing, for as time went by, more and more people started complaining about the level of detail being reported by the papers. Details about tears in the vagina, and age thereof seemed to be the focus of the court, rather than on the clients. Then again, from early on it was rumoured that many VIPs were among the victim’s “customers”, hence the blinkered focus on the victim rather than her clients. And the clients who were brought to light were just small fry in the mudpool of life.
Anyways: after a lot of mud dredged up and about, the accused was discharged, as the prosecution could only prove that a murder had taken place (well duh, there’s a body!), but they did not have evidence to show that
1. the death of Noritta was caused by the act of the accused (there was the presence of a mysterious “other person”, who smelled bad, if I remember correctly)
2. nor could they show that the death was done by intention (ugh!! Legal jargon alert!!! I wonder how to translate this one: does it mean they could not prove it was something like involuntary manslaughter? Or that they could not establish motive?)
Whatever. So the prosecution proceeded with the next step: appeal.
Six months later, on 30th Jan 2005, the Appeals Court upheld the previous ruling, again citing the above factors.
So… technically, the killer is still out there. But as far as the police are concerned, their man is Hanif, and the case is closed. They blame the defence for raising doubts. They blame technicalities. They seem to accept that they carried out a shoddy investigation. They may open the case if they get new leads.
Hang on: If they acknowledge that they were shoddy: do they REALLY still believe that Hanif is their man? What with all the doubts cast during the trial, and the presence of this mysterious “other person”… can they still sit there and confidently say that Hanif is their man?
I’m no lawyer, so I am probably barking up a wrong tree here,,, but I wonder if “double jeopardy” come into play? Is that why the prosecution is not going to continue investigations on Hanif, even though they say he’s their man? After all, they’ve got a good place to start: first, just work on dispelling all the doubts raised by the defense during the trial! Maybe hunt down that ‘other person” to get a better picture of what actually happened the night the victim was killed? What sort of “new leads” do they want? The longer you wait, the colder the trail!
The crux of my concern:
How can a case be considered closed if the suspect/accused is essentially found not guilty by the court?
Somewhere somewhen, I remember reading that Malaysia boasts a high rate of solved/closed cases. (If anyone can point me to official statement, and the statistics to prove it, I’d be grateful!!). I remember this precisely because I wondered about the validity of the statement… and when you consider the Noritta case,,, I start to wonder… how many of them were “closed” the way this case was closed? How many of the cases actually had a suspect prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and found guilty? How many are in reality “unsolved” cases?
To me, the Key Success Factor for such a case would be getting the accused to be found guilty. This would be a culmination of different departments working together: the police in getting the evidence and finding the suspect, and the Public Prosecutor in proving guilt in a court of law. (I’m assuming that they find the “correct” accused lah… being wrongfully sentenced is a whole other ballgame!!)
As far as the police are concerned, they did their part: conducting a thorough investigation and coming up with a suspect.
“Thorough”? Then why was the case essentially thrown out? Why would the judge say that shoddy investigation led to the discharge?
“Suspect”? Just coming up with a suspect, is that it? Then just pass it on and brush your hands off?
I do wonder what the Public Prosecutor has to say about this whole thing. Mustapha is quoted as saying “… the Deputy Public Prosecutor would not risk bringing a case to court if they do not have enough evidence,” yet the case was essentially thrown out due to lack of evidence.
What on earth is going on here? Surely the prosecutor should know what is needed to build a strong case against their suspect? I wonder what their conviction rate is… nowhere close to the statistic of closed/solved cases, I bet! I also think Mustapha provides some conflicting statements when he says the case is closed, yet “investigations into cases like this will never end.”
So: after 2 pages of trying to get my thoughts in place… I wonder… what is the basis for the police chief’s statement: Arrogance? Sloppiness? Or just plain laziness?