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Murderer’s death sentence upheld after failed appeal

SINGAPORE — A 39-year-old convicted murderer had his death sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal yesterday, after failing to convince the judges that he had intended only to inflict bodily injuries on an elderly neighbour that are ordinarily sufficient to cause death.

SINGAPORE — A 39-year-old convicted murderer had his death sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal yesterday, after failing to convince the judges that he had intended only to inflict bodily injuries on an elderly neighbour that are ordinarily sufficient to cause death.

Rather, the apex court ruled that by stabbing Tham Weng Kuen more than 110 times in her Boon Lay flat during a robbery in 2005, Muhammad Kadar had intended to kill the 69-year-old.

The ruling that Muhammad’s offence falls under intentional murder meant he did not qualify for resentencing, which is provided for under changes to the Penal Code that took effect last year, giving judges the discretion to spare certain murderers the death penalty. It is the first time the courts have dismissed a convicted murderer’s bid to have his case sent back for resentencing.

Muhammad was sentenced to death in 2009 with his older brother Ismil, 46, for murdering Tham. The numerous twists in their long-running trial — including Muhammad fingering his brother for the murder, before turning around to say he was solely responsible — captured the public’s attention.

The High Court convicted the siblings and sentenced them to death, but the case culminated in the Court of Appeal acquitting Ismil of murder and slamming investigators and prosecutors for how they had handled the case.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Amarick Gill argued that his client’s case should not fall under intentional murder because he had gone to Tham’s flat unarmed and had remarked that he was “shocked” when later told how many times he had slashed her.

But Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang said Muhammad had given evidence that he had intended to silence Tham to prevent her from identifying him and there was no way he could have done that unless he had killed her.

The majority of Tham’s wounds were to her head and neck, the most vulnerable parts of her body, the court said. After the attack, Muhammad’s steps to conceal his role, such as by wearing the shoes of Tham’s husband during the clean-up, also suggested clarity of thought and a rational mind.

Muhammad, whose family was not in court, was expressionless when the ruling was read. He faces the hangman’s noose unless his appeal to the President for clemency succeeds.

NEO CHAI CHIN

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