A sad case.
Under NST news “car dealer escapes the gallows”
Other references: utusan news “peniaga bebas tuduhan bunuh” (in Malay) and other sources from asiaone, malaysia-chronicle etc. WA today Australia news
It’s about an abduction of a 25yo fresh grad (Chee Gaip Yap in 2006) while she went out jogging with her younger sister. This was followed by gang-rape (multiple semen found) and murder by stabbing.
The clue was from a tinted car seen speeding away from crime scene. The owner was found and detained. Bail was given and DNA sample taken. Before DNA test was out, the suspect, Shahril Jaafar, jumped bail and fled oversea (and found six years later [Jan 2013] in Australia as PR).
The DNA test matched suspect with semen found. However, there was contamination from other semen (from gang rape) and rendering the evidence inconclusive (and useless).
In order to strengthen the case, the prosecutor(s) can only use circumstantial evidence or testimony (from investigative work carried out six years ago); as the case was recently reopen after a six years lapse, there was a change of hands by prosecutors (from Lim Cheah Yit to Datuk Razali Che Ani); in other word, the original prosecutor handling the case was off the case (reason not specified) and the case needed to be established promptus (or expeditiously); This could have (speculatively) rendered the case shoddy and weak.
In the end, the prosecutor failed to bring a strong case and the court decided a lack of prima facie case against the suspect, and the suspect was acquitted. The father of the victim nearly jumped to his death after the sentencing (if not prevented by witnesses) due to immense grief. My condolence.
The above case left me wondering:
1. Why was the suspect not charged with contempt of court for jumping bail? Would an innocent person flee before the DNA test?
2. Is DNA technology still not up-to-date in Malaysia (or elsewhere) to pin-point multiple source of DNA (esp. gang rape and murder where the victim can’t testify)? Unfortunately, the answer is a YES.
3. There was no mention of DNA sample obtained in the said suspected vehicle used in abduction and rape. Not even a single strand of hair from the victim? The court decided that just because the suspect’s car was seen speeding away from the crime scene does not imply his vehicle was used for abduction (and rape). I think the prosecutor (or investigation process) made a very weak case and I can assume that they were incompetent in handling the case.
4. News report associated the suspect as the son of a “Datuk” (normally implies powerful person) in Malaysia. This fact carries a negative connotation and normally would allow speculation that the case was unfairly conducted.
5. There is a similarity in the rape-and murder case of Norrita Samsuddin (source: The Star news) in which the semen found on the victim after probable gang-rape (multiple semen) and murder was useless due to DNA “contamination”. The case relied solely on the competency of investigative and prosecution process (and evidence at hand); the suspect, Hanif Basree was acquitted.
6. I wonder how well is the performance of Malaysian prosecutors in gang-rape-cum-murder (or rape-cum-murder) cases. How about the performance of our forensic team in Malaysia?
7. What will happen to the semen sample of “contaminated” origin? Will they be destroyed (and case close forever) or is there HOPE that these samples will be stored for future reference (with advent of technology) in order to bring justice to those wrongly acquitted (as well as those wrongfully sentenced).
8. For those would-be rapist-cum-murderer; technology will catch up and allow a robust DNA profiling of single cell (or spermatozoon) and this will be bundled with efficient isolation of cellular evidence. Even if the DNA is chemically destroyed, if there is enough material to work with – next gen sequencing and powerful bioinformatic tools will allow reconstruction of these materials (with epigenome, proteome, or other biomolecules readout) to reinforce association of samples found on victim (or crime scene) and assist in prosecutors’ presentation of circumstantial evidence.