KUALA LUMPUR - A chicken rice seller accused of burning his girlfriend alive had his charge reduced to manslaughter after the court found no proof that he had intended to murder her.
High Court Justice Kamardin Hashim reduced the charge against Cheh Chun Nam, 37, who was originally accused of murdering Chan Yee Mun in 2012.
He ruled that the prosecution's evidence was satisfactory to prove that Chan's death was caused by her burns and that Cheh had started the fire. "While inference could be made that Cheh's actions led to the victim's death, there isn't anything to show he intended to kill her," said Justice Kamardin.
He said Cheh would have known that lighting Chan on fire could kill her, and thus his actions were culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Cheh maintained his plea of innocence and claimed trial to the amended charge.
During the submissions, DPP Mohd Nordin Ismail said the pathologist confirmed the cause of death was due to severe burns which covered 90-94 per cent of Chan's body.
He said Cheh had a history of violent behaviour, with testimony from Chan's family saying that they had seen her with bruises.
Cheh's defence lawyer Datuk Rajpal Singh said there had been conflicting testimony with some neighbours claiming they saw Cheh saving Chan from the fire.
He reminded the court that Cheh too suffered burns to his hands.
"If you really want to kill someone, you wouldn't change your mind at that stage and risk your life trying to save them.
"If you really love someone, you'll use whatever you have to save that burning person, even if this means burning your own hands," he said. The court fixed Aug 26 for Cheh to testify in his defence.