Father escapes gallows after triple murder acquittal

Conviction set aside: Munesuaran being wheeled out by a hospital attendant to face the charge of killing his three children in this 2011 file picture.
The Star

PUTRAJAYA - A tractor operator escaped the gallows after the Court of Appeal acquitted and discharged him on a charge of killing his three children who were found drowned in a pond.

A three-man panel chaired by Justice Wira Mohtaruddin Baki unanimously allowed R. Munesua­ran's appeal to set aside his conviction and death sentence.

Justices Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and Zamani A. Rahim were the other two judges on the panel.

Munesuaran, 33, had appealed against the Muar High Court's decision on Feb 24, which sentenced him to death after finding him guilty of the triple murder.

When the verdict was announced, Munesuaran, who was clad in the red-white prison attire, said "Thank you, Yang Arif" to the judges.

He was charged with the murder of his daughters Nivyatharshini, five, and Renisha, three, and his son Thevanesh, two, at a retention pond in Ladang Lambak Elias, Jalan Mengkibol, between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on Aug 22, 2011.

His lawyer Afifuddin Ahmad Hafifi argued that Munesuaran ought to be acquitted because there was misdirection by the High Court judge, which prejudiced his right to a fair trial.

He said the judge had misdirected himself by admitting husband and wife privileged communication as evidence, adding that without it, there was no other evidence to link Munesuaran to the murder.

Afifuddin said it was unfortunate that three lives were lost, but Munesuaran could only be convicted with the application of the right procedure of law, which had not been followed.

He said the High Court judge had wrongly treated a prosecution witness - Munesuaran's father, who testified that the children could have wandered on their own to the pond - as a hostile witness.

Afifuddin said the testimony of Munesuaran's father carried weight for the defence.

He also submitted that there were material discrepancies and contradictions among three prosecution witnesses over whether Munesuaran confessed to killing the children.

DPP Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar submitted that Mune­suaran's conviction was safe as circumstantial evidence showed that he had committed the offence.

It was reported that Munesuaran took his three children to the pond after telling his family that he was taking them fishing.

He returned home several minutes later without the children.

The children's bodies were fished out of the pond later that day.