Suspected lawyer killers to remain in custody: Malaysian court (Lead)

September 18th, 2010 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 18 (IANS) A Malaysian court Saturday extended till Sep 25 the police custody of two persons accused of extorting $32,000 for the release of an Indian businessman who has been missing since January.
The judgment came as the Malaysian police sought help from their counterparts in Chennai, where the victim A. Muthuraja lived and had wide business interests, including film financing.

The Malaysian police have also sought Interpol’s help to trace Muthuraja and to crack several other cases of murder and disappearance of people. The past cases are being linked to last month’s sensational killing of woman entrepreneur Sosilawati Lawiya and three others at a farm house at Banting in Selangor state.

The Circuit Magistrate’s Court in Sepang remanded the two lawer brothers in police custody for a week “to facilitate police investigations”, The Star newspaper reported.

The two suspects are believed to have extorted RM100,000 ($32,221) from Muthuraja’s wife, S. Usharani, 24, as part of the RM 1 million ransom to secure the release of her husband, according to Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama.

Muthuraja is believed to be one of the victims of the lawyer brothers facing probe in the series of killings, including the murders of cosmetic tycoon and her three companions last month.

The two brothers and an accomplice had their remand extended for another week till September 25 by another court here, said Kuala Lumpur CID Chief Ku Chin Wah Saturday.

The remand period for the five other suspects had been extended until Thursday, said a police spokesman.

Muthuraja was said to have confirmed to Usharani on his arrival here in January that he had met the lawyer brothers at the airport.

She said earlier this week that she failed to contact her husband for several days and became worried and lodged a report with the Indian high commission here.

She has charged that her husband could not be traced as “authorities” refused to release him despite her family having paid RM 80,000 ($25,777) through a middleman.

The Malaysian police have asked their Indian counterparts to help obtain DNA samples from the family members of Muthuraja, whose business interests in Chennai include financing film production.

The Malaysian authorities said that police here needed the samples following the discovery of hundreds of bone fragments, believed to belong to as many as 20 persons who might have been killed and dumped in the Sungai Panchau river bed in Banting.

“Police in Malaysia are not sure if the businessman is dead or alive and the DNA samples are needed to assist in investigations,” The Star newspaper said Saturday, quoting an unnamed source who also said it would take a few days for the DNA samples to be sent to Malaysia.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, meanwhile, confirmed the arrest of a 34-year-old Malaysian man in connection with the missing Muthuraja.

The role of Selangor police has come in for criticism and Bakar said the anti-graft cell in his force would investigate “policemen who live beyond their known means”, who are alleged to have hushed up the involvement of the lawyer brothers in last week’s killings.

The seriies of killings and disappearances triggered political controversies Friday.

T. Murgiah, an ethnic Indian and a deputy minister in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government, alleged that he had been subjected to a smear campaign through SMSes, that he had links with two main suspects, who have not been named so far.

Murgiah hinted at his political rival, M. Kayveas, who heads the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) with which he had an acrimonious parting earlier this year.

A similar SMS campaign also took place between leaders of opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Perkasa leaders.

The police Saturday said they had built up “an iron clad case” and would approach the Attorney General’s office next week to pursue judicial processes.

Prime Minister Najib has commended the role of the police in the investigations. His government has said that there was no racial bias in the investigations that were being pursued as per the law.

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