Convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment but ultimately acquitted of the 2003 murders of his two flatmates in Sydney, Singaporean Ram Puneet Tiwary shares his side of the story in a new memoir.
Published by Marshall Cavendish Editions, 99 Months: The Case Of The Sydney Double Murders will be in bookstores by Sunday. The 344-page book retails at $23.35 before GST.
In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times, Mr Tiwary, 35, explains his long silence after he returned here two years ago.
"It was out of respect for the families, I thought speaking to the media might be insensitive," he says, adding that he was also afraid of more media attention.
He says friends convinced him he needed to set the record straight about his involvement in the killings.
He also hopes that the book might prompt new witnesses to come forward and help solve his flatmates' murders. "It might be possible. Why not try?"
He declines to talk about his personal life or job, but says he is no longer based in Singapore and never completed the mechanical engineering degree which took him to Sydney in the first place.
He did not talk to loved ones about his mental and physical anguish over his eight years of jail time, two trials and two appeal hearings. Then, a friend asked him to write "a series of notes" to her about what he had been through. It evolved into the book.
Mr Tiwary was studying at the University of New South Wales with fellow Singaporeans Tay Chow Lyang, 26, and Tan Poh Chuan, 27, when both were murdered on Sept 15, 2003.
Arrested and charged in May 2004, he was jailed, but acquitted in 2012. Crown prosecutors said they would not appeal against the acquittal.
In the book, Mr Tiwary says he was asleep in his room on the day of the murders and was unaware of Mr Tay's death. He later heard the struggle that led to Mr Tan's death, but was too afraid to go outside. He barricaded his door instead.
He alleges that evidence supporting his version of events was either misplaced or suppressed by local police. The first video of him being questioned after the murders was reported as "missing" before the first trial.
Mr Tiwary says the tape would have silenced allegations that he had a lot of blood on him and was cleaning it off when officers arrived.
Prosecutors also suggested that he had killed his flatmates because of an A$5,054 debt for rent and household expenses. An online chat message sent by Mr Tay showed Mr Tiwary had been paying his share, the book says.
Mr Tiwary received a life sentence after the first trial. In his book, he writes that jail conditions were so bad he became obsessed with cleanliness, soaking letters from relatives in disinfectant before reading them.
Attacks by inmates left him with limited sensation in his right thumb, and a scarred right shoulder. At one point, he decided that if his appeal failed, he would "take out" some inmates and then kill himself with drugs. "Being put in a cage really does make you an animal," he says.
He has not approached his former flatmates' families since his return, saying that "I don't know how to take the first step. They have their own idea of how things happened".
Still, he hopes they will read the book.
"I've tried to be honest and open about everything. I'd like it if they read it but I don't hope for anything in particular for them to think after they've read it."
Mr Tan's family declined to comment. Mr Tay's family could not be reached by press time.
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