A Bangladeshi national, who was tried for murdering a senior member of a rival contraband cigarette syndicate, was acquitted yesterday and convicted instead of causing grievous hurt with a weapon.
Miya Manik, 31, did not dispute the amended charge, which stated that he and two accomplices had a common intention to slash their compatriot Munshi Abdur Rahim, 32, in 2016 at a field near the Tuas View Dormitory.
The case was adjourned to July 20 for sentencing arguments.
In an 11-day trial that started in January, the High Court heard that Manik was a member of a syndicate that ran a “lucrative” business selling contraband cigarettes at several locations in Tuas.
His group was involved in a turf war with a breakaway faction, whose leaders included Mr Rahim, over control of a field at Tuas South Avenue 1, which generated the highest sales volume.
On the night of Sept 24, 2016, the simmering tension came to a boil after someone from Manik’s group was attacked by members of Mr Rahim’s syndicate.
Manik and at least three others armed themselves with choppers and wooden poles as about a dozen members of their syndicate prepared for a showdown.
During the confrontation, Manik and two other men chased after Mr Rahim, and attacked him with choppers when he fell.
Mr Rahim died from a deep gash that cut a main artery in his left leg.
The attack, which lasted less than nine seconds, was captured by the in-vehicle camera of a parked bus.
The prosecution’s primary case against Manik was that he had dealt the fatal blow.
Alternatively, the prosecution argued that he had a common intention with the two others, who remain unidentified, to cause the fatal injury.
Manik, who is defended by Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, denied inflicting the fatal injury and argued that he did not know the other two men would fatally injure Mr Rahim.
Yesterday, Justice Valerie Thean accepted that Manik attacked Mr Rahim, but said the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he had inflicted the fatal injury.
“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,” she said.
The judge said the prosecution had also failed to prove its alternative case that the three men had the common intention to fatally injure Mr Rahim.
She noted that the evidence of surrounding witnesses was that the plan, as discussed, was not to kill.
She said the medical evidence showed that apart from the fatal injury and a wound to the back, the remaining wounds were relatively superficial.
The judge also said the attack did not appear to be directed at vulnerable parts of the victim’s body.
One of the unidentified men had started the attack by kicking Mr Rahim, and large arm movements seen from the footage was consistent with an attempt to send a message of deterrence, she added.