Mum still loves killer son in murders that rocked Malaysia

Mum still loves killer son in murders that rocked Malaysia
To Zaharah Atan, her killer son Rasidi is the brightest and most filial of her eight children.

GEMENCHEH - He killed his aged grandparents and cut off his father's head before slashing his 22-year-old sister and leaving her to die a slow death.

But as inexplicable as it is, Zaharah Atan still considers her son Rasidi Ismail, now 37, as the most filial of her eight children.

And the 64-year-old mother's love for her son has only grown since he committed the murders more than five years ago.

"I can't wait for the third day of Hari Raya as that is the only time I get to see him each year at Kajang Prison," she said at her rented low-cost house in Kg Batang Rokan near here.

Families are given 45 minutes to visit their loved ones at the prison.

However, only one person is allowed to meet Rasidi at one time, she said.

Seated across a table separated by a glass panel, they can only communicate over the telephone.

"The 15 minutes are the most precious moments I look forward to throughout the year," she said.

The small town of Gemencheh was in the news more than five years ago after news broke that a youth had brutally killed four members of his family.

Rasidi, the fourth of eight siblings, was eventually charged with the gruesome murders of his grandparents Atan Daud, 90, Sofiah Katas, 80, father Ismail Awang, 76, and sister Siti Khatijah, 22.

He also decapitated his father and took the head to Shah Alam and buried it at a cemetery in Section 21.

The Seremban High Court, however, found the former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia dropout not guilty of the crime because he was of unsound mind and suffered from schizophrenia.

Recalling the day of the incident, Zaharah said she was working at a chicken farm in Gedok when she heard about the tragedy.

"It was such a shock because Rasidi never had a history of violence. He was actually his grandfather's favourite," she said.

Zaharah said Rasidi had since put on weight and was healthy as he continued to be detained at the pleasure of the Ruler.

"He remembers everyone and everything. I am certain he is now normal as he has been on medication for his mental condition," said Zaharah, adding that she also gets to speak with her son when he is given the opportunity to call home once a month.

Zaharah said she never asked Rasidi why he committed the murders.

"Until today, I cannot bring myself to ask him why he did it. I tried to once before but it only made me cry," she said.

She said her younger brother did ask Rasidi but he could not provide an explanation.

"I have also stopped asking myself why he did it. I am just waiting for the day for him to come home," she said, adding that Rasidi was also the brightest among his siblings.

Zaharah said days after the tragedy, she had a weird dream.

"In my dream I saw Rasidi in the driver's seat of a car with my parents, husband and daughter.

"They had just come home but they didn't have any expression on their faces," she said.

Zaharah said Rasidi had three cell mates now and this could be the reason for his improving mental health.

"When I used to visit him initially, he was in a cell by himself. He is a lot happier now because he has friends," she said.

Whenever she visited, Rasidi would always ask her to advise his siblings, especially the younger ones, to be committed to whatever they do.

"He also told me that he wished to take up tailoring in prison so that he could earn a living when he is released," she said.

Zaharah no longer lives at the house where the heinous crimes were committed.

"I lived there for 40 years. My children asked me to move out because they were all working or living elsewhere," she said.

But she said she was prepared to go back when Rasidi is released.

"We will apply for a loan and build a new house on the 0.8ha land.

"It is my dream that my children will all again live as one big family like in the past," she said.

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