GEORGE TOWN - A teenager accused of murdering T. Nhaveen broke down in tears when he saw his family members sitting in the court's public gallery.
This prompted his brother to console him from afar through hand gestures, asking him to calm down.
S. Gokulan, 18, who is unemployed, was in the dock of the Sessions Court here yesterday with three other teenagers. They face a joint charge of causing grievous hurt to Nhaveen's friend, T. Previin, 19, by using a helmet.
All four pleaded not guilty to committing the offence between 11pm and midnight on June 9 near a learning centre in Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor.
They were charged under Section 326 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and fine or whipping upon conviction.
The other accused are college student J. Ragesuthen, 18, and two secondary school students aged 16 and 17.
Judge Irwan Suainbon fixed Aug 21 for mention pending the medical and chemist reports.
The four were later taken to a magistrate's court where they were jointly charged with murdering Nhaveen, 18, at the same time and place.
The offence carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.
All four were unrepresented in both courts. DPP Lim Saw Sim prosecuted in the Sessions Court and DPP Nurul Fatin Hussin at the magistrate's court.
Both courtrooms were packed with mostly family members of the accused.
Outside the magistrate's court, a relative claimed that his family had approached several lawyers but none wanted to take up their case because the word "sodomise" had been used in reports about the case.
He also claimed to have received a threatening message from an unknown number and had lodged a police report.
However, George Town OCPD Asst Comm Anuar Omar said police received no such report.
ACP Anuar said an 18-year-old suspect, who was arrested together with the four accused, was released on a bond and would serve as prosecution witness.
"We have completed our investigations and the prosecution is in progress. Don't listen to rumours," he said.
Nhaveen was found unconscious around midnight on June 10 at a field next to Jalan Kaki Bukit in Bukit Gelugor.
He died at the Penang Hospital at 5.31pm on June 15.
It was reported that he suffered internal bleeding in his head and abdomen, was burnt on his back and had signs that a blunt object had been shoved into his anus.
Nhaveen and Previin had gone to a burger stall in Gelugor for a snack and were set upon by a gang of youths, whom Previin identified as their ex-schoolmates.
Nhaveen, who would have turned 18 in December, finished Form Five last year and was going to enrol at a private college this month to pursue his dream of becoming a music composer.