Caught 21 years after crime

Caught 21 years after crime

He fled Singapore to return to his hometown in Batam after attacking three men here with a knife in 1992.

One of them, Malaysian Lim Bu Chuan, 23, died in hospital about five months later.

The assailant, an Indonesian named Khairul, was caught on June 27 last year at the HarbourFront Centre.

He was trying to enter Singapore to catch a flight at Changi Airport to go on a pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Khairul, who is now a 46-year-old religious teacher, was jailed for four years and given seven strokes of the cane yesterday, after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Mr Lim.

Two assault charges involving his two other Malaysian victims, Mr Choo Chee Heng, then 20, and Mr Puah Seng Yap, then 30, were taken into consideration during sentencing. They were here on social visit passes.

In 1992, Khairul, who was then a supervisor for an Indonesian company that produces cables, was in Singapore for a two-week refresher course.

While here, he stayed in a Clementi flat with Mr Choo's sister.

After befriending Khairul, Mr Choo and Mr Lim invited him to their flat at nearby Block 362, Clementi Avenue 2, to watch television on Sept 25.

The trio reached there at around 11.30pm.

Later, the Malaysians went to bed, leaving Khairul to watch television alone.

At around 2am, Khairul crept into a bedroom and slashed the sleeping Mr Lim on the neck with a knife that had a 20cm blade.

The commotion awakened Mr Choo and Mr Puah, who were also asleep in the room, and a scuffle broke out.

Khairul slashed them with the knife before fleeing.

Mr Lim was taken to the National University Hospital in an ambulance.

The neck injury left him paralysed and, because of financial constraints, he was transferred to the Johor Baru General Hospital about a month later.

He was later warded in JB's Sultanah Aminah Hospital, where he died of respiratory failure on Feb 9, 1993.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Lydia Goh urged District Judge Marvin Bay yesterday to give Khairul a "higher custodial sentence with caning".

She stressed that Khairul had abused his hosts' goodwill that evening.

BANK ROBBERY

But Khairul's lawyer, Mr Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed, asked for the shortest possible custodial sentence for his client.

He said Khairul had attacked the men after suddenly recalling a bank robbery in Batam by a group of Malaysian men.

Khairul said the robbers had shot dead an Indonesian police officer and a security guard.

"A sense of anger hit him and there was like a mysterious call to him which made him take the...knife (to attack Mr Lim)," said Mr Mohamed Muzammil.

Before handing out the sentence, Judge Bay recognised that the incident had taken place 22 years ago when Khairul was a different person and had a significant impulse-control problem.

But what happened cannot be reversed and Mr Lim had "lingered" for months before finally dying, he added.

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Khairul could have been jailed for life or up to 10 years, and fined or caned.

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 9 in The New Paper.

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