Accused tried for a murder charge in Singapore
1. Criminal Defence Lawyers for the Accused
Eugene Thuraisingam and Chooi Jing Yen, both criminal defence lawyers for the accused, Miya Manik (“Manik”) who was tried for a murder charge, have successfully secured an acquittal. The criminal defence lawyers for Manik appeared before Justice Valerie Thean (“Justice Thean”) in the High Court.
2. Background of the murder charge
On 24 September 2016, a dispute near Tuas View Dormitory resulted in the death of 32-year-old Bangladeshi Munshi Abdur Rahim (“Rahim”). A pathologist identified the cause of death as a wound to the leg, though she noted several other injuries to the body as well.
Manik was arrested in 2016 and held in remand to await trial. At trial, it was undisputed that Manik had participated in assaulting Rahim, along with two others.
The Prosecution sought to prove that Manik was guilty of Rahim’s murder. They brought two alternative charges against him. First, that he had intentionally inflicted a fatal knife wound to Rahim’s left leg, thereby committing murder within the meaning of Section 300(c) of the Penal Code. Second and to provision for the event that it would be unable to prove the first charge, the Prosecution charged Manik in the alternative with sharing a common intention with two other assailants to inflict an injury to Rahim sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, thereby committing murder within the meaning of Section 300(c) read with Section 34 of the Penal Code.
After more than 10 days of a criminal trial which began in January 2020, Justice Thean acquitted Manik of both charges. While Justice Thean accepted that Manik attacked Rahim, she nevertheless found that the Prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Manik had inflicted the fatal injury that caused Rahim’s death.
Justice Thean said:
“The bus camera footage was not of a high quality, some of the scenes were dark, and in some frames, the view of Rahim’s legs was obstructed by the assailants’ bodies, and it did not show important details of how the assailants struck Rahim.”
“It is unsafe to conclude from that footage that Manik had inflicted the fatal injury.”
Justice Thean also found that the Prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Manik had shared a common intention with the other two assailants to inflict an injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death to Rahim. She noted that other witnesses had given evidence that the plan was not to kill the victim. There was also no indication that Manik had an incentive to kill the victim, instead of merely injuring him. Further, the medical evidence showed that most of the wounds on the victim were relatively superficial, apart from the fatal injury and a wound to the back.
Miyak was therefore acquitted of the murder charge and convicted of a lesser charge of sharing a common intention to voluntarily cause grievous hurt using a dangerous weapon.