KOTA KINABALU - Former restaurant manager Riduan Masmud has lost his appeal against his conviction and 12-year jail sentence for raping an underage girl last year whom he later married.
The 42-year-old, who has been out on bail, kept his head low when High Court judge Justice Stephen Chung dismissed the appeal yesterday.
He then ordered that Riduan start serving his sentence, which included two strokes of rotan.
Justice Chung said the jail term would begin immediately and dismissed an application by Ram Singh, Riduan's counsel, for a stay of execution, adding that there was no reason for Riduan not to be sent directly to prison.
He said he had taken into account the points raised by Ram, including those pertaining to the competency of the two child witnesses, and found nothing to disturb the Sessions Court ruling on the case.
The victim and her school friend had testified against Riduan during the trial.
"Before recording the child witnesses, the trial judge had asked a series of questions on their competency as witnesses and after enquiring, the judge was satisfied that the children understood the procedure of court and proceeded to record their evidence under oath," Justice Chung said.
"The trial judge also had the advantage of hearing and seeing them giving evidence in court and found that they were competent witnesses."
Also, Justice Chung said, there was independent evidence that Riduan had had sexual intercourse with the victim inside the car and that there was penetration.
"Thus, rape has been established," he said.
He said he had also taken into consideration the DNA evidence that was recovered from several items in the vehicle.
Riduan, a father of four children aged between two and 17, was found guilty on Jan 24 last year of raping the schoolgirl, who was about 12 at the time, in a parked vehicle near the Kionsom Waterfall in Inanam between 9am and 10am on Feb 18, 2013.
He married the girl in May that year in a bid to escape conviction and later admitted to attempting to bribe her father with RM10,000 (S$3,752) to withdraw his police report.
For that offence, the Sessions Court sentenced him on June 22 last year to three day's jail and fined him RM10,000 in default two months imprisonment.
Ram said he would appeal against the High Court decision today.