Death sentence stuns murderer

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MIRI: Mohamad Fitri Pauzi appeared stunned upon hearing the death sentence delivered by High Court Judge Ravintharan N Paramaguru yesterday, after he was found guilty of the murder of Dayak rights and land activist Bill Kayong in 2016.

Fitri, 31, was wearing a white shirt under a hooded sweater and a pair of jeans in court, where he was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code for the murder of Bill in the morning of June 21, 2016.

In his remarks, Judge Ravintharan said the court was satisfied with all the evidence presented by the prosecutors throughout the trial, especially the statement given by the 25th prosecution witness Lau Lee Shen.

In his statement, Lau said in mid-June 2016, Fitri – said to be a pub bouncer – contacted him, asking him to keep a shotgun.

The witness also said during a meeting inside his car, Fitri had shown him a photo of a man, telling him that the man was wanted.

The witness also said he accompanied Fitri to an area in Bakam, where Fitri fired a few shots to test the shotgun, which later he had asked him (Lau) to keep.

In his statement, the witness said several days after that, Fitri – known to him as ‘Apek’ – told him that he would be coming to collect the gun from Lau at 5am, but he only arrived at 6am.

Lau said Fitri came to return the gun about three hours later, again asking him to keep it.

It was around 9am on the same day that Lau heard about a shooting, which had taken place in the city earlier.

“When called into defence, the accused (Fitri) failed to raise any reasonable doubt on the charge; the mask and the shotgun casing presented as evidence for the case, had his DNA on them.

“Therefore, the court finds the accused guilty and convicts him on the charge under Section 302 (of the Penal Code), which the only punishment is mandatory death.

“The Court sentences the accused to death by hanging,” said Judge Ravintharan.

A total of 28 witnesses, including investigating officer ASP Lee Chee Kiat, had been called to testify in the trial that took place last year – on March 7-10, 13-17 and 28-31.

Fitri, who was represented by defence counsels Ranbir Singh, Orlanda Chua and Arthur Lee, had chosen to give his statement from the witness dock on May 21 this year.

On June 6 last year, Judge Ravintharan found that the prosecutors had been successful in making a prima facie case against Fitri.

On that same date, the judge also decided that three other individuals – Datuk Stephen Lee Chee Kiang, Lie Chang Loon and Chin Wei Chung – to be released and acquitted from the charge of being accomplices in the murder, after there was no solid evidence to link them with the crime.

Lee, 45; Lie, 38; and Chin, 51, were each charged according to Section 109 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 302 of the same Code, which is punishable by death upon conviction.

In the case, the three men were accused of being accomplices in hiring Fitri and another man, who is still on the run, to murder Bill.

The deputy public prosecutor was Nur Nisla Abdul Latif.

Present to witness the verdict being passed were Bill’s widow Hasyikin Hatta, aged 43, and their children, as well as Bill’s family and friends, and also members of Dayak non-government organisations who had gathered at the court a couple of hours earlier.