KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA - After spending three years in jail, a military personnel was yesterday freed by the High Court of raping a National Service trainee.
Judge Datuk V. T. Singham set aside the conviction and sentence of the Sessions Court which in 2005 found Corporal Zuki Mohd guilty of raping the trainee, then 17, in a Perodua Kancil in the Rhu Tapai agricultural area in Setiu between 7.28pm and 9.10pm on Feb 28 2004.
Zuki, 34, a military personnel from Kampung Bari Besar, Setiu, was sentenced to 12 years' jail and three strokes of the rotan.
In his judgment, Singham pointed out that the complainant had not only lodged a police report two months after the alleged rape, but could not provide a reasonable explanation for the delay, especially since it was a serious offence.
"Her excuse was that it would shame her family and her dignity if she lodged a report. If that is the case, why then was a police report lodged?" he said.
"The complainant also refused to lodge a report despite being advised to do so numerous times and only did so after two counselling sessions. Does a rape victim need two counselling sessions before deciding to report the matter?"
He said she had many opportunities to lodge a report, including during a visit to a clinic but she only complained of cough and chest pain.
Singham said it was also important to note the reactions of both Zuki and the trainee where the former was prepared to take a medical test and was willing to be investigated by police, while the girl still did not want to lodge a report. He added that their conduct was consistent with a couple who had consensual sex.
Singham said morally what the appellant did to the complainant, even with consent, may not be acceptable to society, especially since the appellant was entrusted in the care of the National Service.
"However, in a criminal trial, moral consideration has no place in determining the truth or guilt of an accused. It should not cloud the judicial finding which must be based on reliable and credible evidence produced in a trial," he said, adding that the Sessions Court did not make sufficient judicial evaluation of the evidence presented.
Zuki, who was dressed in blue prison uniform, cupped his hands to his face and murmured a prayer the moment Singham pronounced that he was free to go and shed a few tears as he was led away from the dock.
Outside the court, relatives cried and embraced him, including his ex-wife Jailiza Jamil.