Sosilawati murders: Two judges recuse themselves from hearing
PUTRAJAYA, July 25 — Two of the Court of Appeal’s three-member panel recused themselves today from hearing an application by four accused, charged with the murder of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three other individuals, to stay the ongoing trial pending their appeal concerning their application to subpoena three deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) as witnesses.
Justice Datuk Ramly Ali, who chaired the panel, and Justice Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali recused themselves after lead defence counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillion applied for their recusal.
Manjeet said Justices Ramly and Mohamed Apandi had previously heard a leave to appeal application brought by farm workers, U. Suresh and K. Sarawanan who are currently serving a 20-year jail term each at the Sungai Udang Prison in Malacca for disposing of evidence related to the murders.
The defence in the murder trial moved to call the DPPs to take the witness stand because they were involved in the proceedings at the Telok Datok magistrate’s court where Suresh and Sarawanan were charged and they had also tendered documents in their attempt to discredit Suresh and Sarawanan.
Consequently, the hearing of the application for a stay order brought by the accused N. Pathmanabhan, a former lawyer and three farm workers T. Thilaiyalagan, R. Matan, and R.Kathavarayan, could not proceed today.
The Appeal Court then fixed tomorrow to hear their application.
Justice Ramly said, “After hearing submissions from both sides, we feel we should recuse ourselves. It is not an issue of bias”.
“If you feel uncomfortable then we recuse ourselves. Justice must be seen to be done,” said Justice Mohamed Apandi.
Justice Datuk Zaharah, the other judge presiding on the panel, said all three (Ramly, Mohamed Apandi and Zaharah) were pulled from other Court of Appeal panels in order to hear the stay application.
Earlier, Manjeet said Justices Ramly and Mohamed Apandi were involved in related matters that overlapped with the issues in their appeal.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Manoj Kurup, who acted for the prosecution, argued that the two judges need not recuse themselves as the matter before them was a stay order and not the appeal proper.
On July 23 this year, the High Court rejected an application by the four accused to subpoena DPPs Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Saiful Edris Zainuddin and Idham Abd. Ghani, to appear as witnesses in their bid to expunge two exhibits from the murder trial.
They are appealing against that decision.
Meanwhile, the four were also seeking for an order from the Appeal Court to stay the trial pending their appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of their application to subpoena the three DPPs after their stay application was disallowed by the High Court.
Pathmanabhan, 43, Thilaiyalagan, 21, Matan, 22, and Kathavarayan, 32, have been ordered to enter their defence on a charge of murdering Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and Sosilawati’s driver, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.
They are charged with committing the murders at Ladang Gadong, Jalan Tanjong Layang, Tanjung Sepat in Banting between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on August 30, 2010. — Bernama