CA affirms death sentence on first accused, but sets it aside in respect of others

Chinaman murdered, chopped and packed into suitcases

By Chitra Weerarathne

The Court of Appeal, yesterday, affirmed the conviction of murder and the sentence of death, imposed by the High Court on a Chinese National, Su Ting Rui, who had murdered a fellow Chinese national, by attacking his head with a hammer. The date of offence had been January 24, 2003, at Dehiwala.

The Court of Appeal, however, set aside the conviction of murder and the sentence of death, imposed by the High Court on four other accused persons, Song Yang, Zhang LI, Guru Lie and Li Hui Bo. The third, fourth and the fifth accused are females. The Court convicted them for the lesser offence of ‘disposing of evidence’, and sentenced the second and third accused person, Yang and Zhang LI to five years rigorous imprisonment. The fourth and fifth accused persons were acquitted.

The five Chinese nationals were charged before the High Court that they had murdered a fellow Chinese male and thereafter chopping his body into pieces, packing body parts into two suite cases, taking them to Kandy from Dehiwala and disposing of the corpse pieces.

The suitcases thrown off a hillock fell on the roof of a house, breaking open, and body parts falling all over. The occupants of the house chased and caught the first two accused, who were running away, tied them to a free and called the police.

The first two accused were cooks in a Chinese Restaurant in Dehiwala, owned and managed by the third accused; the fourth and the fifth accused were female helpers. All were convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court on August, 2011. Dr Ranjith Fernando, who appeared for the accused appellants, submitted to the court of Appeal, that there was no evidence direct or circumstantial that the second to fifth accused were involved in the murder or cutting up of the body into parts as they had not been at the place where murder was committed, and if at all, at the very most, they might have assisted in disposing of the parts of the corpse to protect the first accused who had attacked the victim. Consequently, they could be held liable, guilty of the offence of "causing disappearance of evidence," knowing that an offence had been committed. The maximum sentence for the offence would be seven years rigorous imprisonment.

Further, the first accused had confessed to the commission of the killing, before the Magistrate and also before the High Court though he said it was in ‘self-defence’, as the deceased had attempted to attack him.

Senior Additional Solicitor General Yassantha Kodagoda, President’s counsel submitted that the Court of Appeal would be justified in considering the culpability for the lesser offence of ‘Causing disappearance, disposal of evidence with such knowledge and intention", as far as the second to the fifth accused persons were concerned. But the first accused Su Ting Rin should be found guilty of the brutal murder, on the basis of his own confession.

President’s counsel Kodagoda appeared for the Attorney General. The judgement was by Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President).

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