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Judicial CP - February 2005

Corpun file 15037


Straits Times, Singapore, 1 February 2005

Done in by DNA

Killer gets eight years in jail after saliva on cigarette butts links him to woman's death

By Tanya Fong and Elena Chong

EIGHT years after he stabbed and killed a woman with a pocket nail file, Zulkarnain Kemat, 37, was done in by DNA. His saliva on cigarettes left at the crime scene yielded enough evidence to link him to the crime.

A six-stroke caning for Sulkarnain Kemat, 37
NABBED IN THE END: DNA taken while Zulkarnain was in jail for a drug offence linked him to the eight-year-old crime.

A match was made last year when police took DNA samples from him while he was serving time for a drug offence in Changi Prison.

He was sentenced to eight years' jail and six strokes of the cane yesterday, after admitting to culpable homicide by causing the death of Madam Jetkor Miang Singh, 51.

This is the first homicide to be cracked using the $4.2 million DNA database containing the genetic profiles of about 53,000 people, mostly accused persons and prisoners here.

Police have been using DNA analysis since 1997 to test specific suspects, but got the approval only in 2002 to take tissue samples from people connected to a crime.

DNA, found in blood, saliva, skin and semen, reveals the unique genetic make-up of an individual.

It has helped police crack three other landmark cases, where the criminals left behind samples - either semen or blood - at the crime scenes.

The cases include a 62-year-old robber who molested his Japanese victim and stained her T-shirt with his semen, and a serial robber who left blood when he cut his hand while breaking a window.

What nailed Zulkarnain were the 10 cigarettes he and Madam Jetkor were smoking before he killed her.

In an attempt to get rid of evidence, he cleaned her bloodstains from his shoes, wiped fingerprints off the table and even threw away the ashtray they were using.

But he forgot about the cigarette butts he had dumped on some newspapers.

The court heard that on Oct 4, 1996, Zulkarnain, then 29, had gone to Madam Jetkor's flat at Block 540 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at about 1.30am.

They had earlier been drinking beer at a coffee shop and Madam Jetkor invited him to her flat.

The pair had met at a coffee shop through friends a month before the crime.

At her home, they sat chatting in the kitchen, but got into a heated quarrel when she said his mother had taught him only to go in and out of jail.

Since the age of 17, Zulkarnain had been convicted of mainly theft. He was last sentenced in September 2000 to 6 years in jail and three strokes of the cane for taking drugs.

Angered, Zulkarnain stood up and talked back to her. Madam Jetkor slapped him and told him to get out of her flat.

He took out a nail clipper from his jeans, twisted open the nail file and used it to stab her neck repeatedly.

A struggle ensued and he kicked her stomach, causing her to fall. He continued to kick her face and neck while she was on the floor, until he saw blood on her head.

Though Zulkarnain was found after being arrested for a drug offence in June 1997, he denied having met Madam Jetkor that night.

In November 2003, the police updated their DNA database and sent the 10 cigarette butts to the Health Sciences Authority for profiling. The match was found on March 30 last year.

Zulkarnain's lawyers, Mr Singa Retnam and Mr Kertar Singh, said the defendant had been provoked into attacking the woman.

They said she often became violent when drunk and also abused her own mother and daughter, who moved out in August 1996.

While Justice Woo Bih Li agreed that the woman had provoked Zulkarnain, he noted that she had died from not one but multiple blows to her neck.

Corpun file 15128


Straits Times, Singapore, 5 February 2005

Slain twins

Dad pleads guilty, gets 8 years and cane

Murder charged reduced, judge gives 'compassionate' sentence

By Elena Chong

THE father accused of killing his month-old twin babies yesterday pleaded guilty to reduced charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The 27-year-old unemployed man, originally accused of murder, was sentenced to eight years' jail and six strokes of the cane after he admitted hitting the babies on the head with an ashtray on Jan 21 last year.

His change of plea came after a 12-day trial, half of which was spent on a trial-within-a-trial to determine if several of his statements to the police were voluntary.

After it was ruled that they were, his lawyers, Mr R.S. Bajwa and Mr Mahmood Gaznavi, had the case adjourned till yesterday to make representations.

Having considered those representations, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Cheng Thiam told the court the prosecution had decided to proceed on reduced charges on 'compassionate grounds'.

DPP Chong Li Min said that while the accused was alone in a room with his twins, he grabbed a helmet-shaped ashtray from a table and hit the younger baby on the head after turning him face down. He then went to the other side of the bed and hit the other twin on the head.

Later, his mother came to the flat with some letters.

After reading a letter about the baby bonus, his wife said she wanted the baby bonus money to be credited to her father's account. The accused did not reply, but returned to the bedroom and later came out carrying the younger twin, who was crying, and handed the child to his mother.

The woman said her grandson was cold, and his head swollen and soft.

The accused's wife then went to the room and found the other baby lying motionless on the bed with his head tilted to the left.

Later that afternoon, paramedics pronounced the babies dead from severe head injuries.

Describing it as a very tragic case, Mr Bajwa said his client loved the babies very much and often got up in the early hours to feed and comfort them.

The lawyer said his client had committed the crime on the spur of the moment, having been disturbed at the recollection of 'not very nice' things his aunts had said about him.

The accused's 25-year-old wife - who was with her son and other family members in court - had forgiven and still loved him despite what had happened, the lawyer said. The family cannot be named in order to protect the other child, who will be three this year.

Mr Bajwa said his client even 'patted' his twins to sleep after hitting them, thinking nothing serious had happened.

In passing sentence, Justice Tay Yong Kwang said: 'You know what you have done. It is not an easy case for me to sentence.'

He told the accused - who appeared impassive - that 'by a measure of compassion' for him, he would make the sentence of eight years and three strokes on each charge concurrent, not consecutive. He also backdated the sentence to Jan 28 last year .

The maximum penalty for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or a jail term of up to 10 years, or a fine and caning as well.

Copyright 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 15200


Today, Singapore, 11 February 2005


Cane those engaged in vice activities

I refer to your report, "When hookers come to town" (Feb 5-6). It mentions the number of such arrests rose to over 5,000 last year.

Such activities have a damaging effect on Singapore's image and we waste our resources going after the vice operators and the girls.

It was reported that foreigners caught engaging in vice activities would "only" be repatriated and banned from re-entering the country.

Perhaps, we can introduce compulsory caning for offenders -- including the owners of the massage parlours -- just as we cane male illegal immigrants.

In this way, the women will think twice before making another attempt to come here and solicit.

Tang Kum Cheong

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 15199


Today, Singapore, 15 February 2005


Caning ineffective in ending prostitution

I refer to Mr Tang Kum Cheong's letter "Cane those engaged in vice activities" (Feb 11), in which he suggests such a punishment for foreign prostitutes and massage parlour owners in order to deter sex workers from coming to Singapore on social visit passes.

Others have suggested caning or punishing men who are caught paying for the services of prostitutes. I doubt such primitive measures will have any effect where basic human instincts are concerned.

Authorities in Guangzhou, China, once stamped something embarrassing about "chickens" in the passports of foreigners who were caught with prostitutes. The offenders were made to look after chickens for a period of time as a form of punishment.

By shaming such men, whose wives would learn about their behaviour overseas, the Chinese authorities hoped to control the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. But the measure did not work.

Mr Tang advocates caning for prostitutes, but traditionally, women have been spared the cane.

My suggestion is to have undercover agents pose as customers to nab these foreign women in places such as Geylang, Boat Quay and hotel nightspots. Wives and girlfriends could form a non-government organisation to take action against men who seek the services of prostitutes.

The immigration authorities should train their officers to identify sex workers at entry points — such women tend to be tall, have long hair and legs, wear tight revealing outfits in black or red and behave coquettishly.

Prostitution is similar to other forms of addiction such as gambling, alcoholism and smoking. Tackling them effectively requires a multi-pronged approach. Caning is the most ineffective and barbaric method in our anti-vice arsenal.

Lim Boon Hee

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

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