Sosilawati murder trial: Court orders reporter, editor to explain article

(Bernama) – The High Court here on Thursday ordered a reporter and an editor of Utusan Malaysia to come to court to explain an article which allegedly was a personal attack on Manjeet Singh Dhillon, a defence lawyer in the trial of the murder of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and her three associates.

Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir made the decision after allowing an application for the order by Manjeet who is representing the first accused, former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan.

Earlier, before the start of proceedings in the trial-within-a-trial to determine whether statements by two of the accused had been made under oppression, Manjeet directed the attention of the court to the article headlined “Manjeet always smears government.”

Displaying a photocopy of the article, he said TV3 had also highlighted it.

Akhtar said he had read the article and found the linking of the trial with politics unacceptable.

“An attack on the defence is also an attack on the court, especially if it is published in the papers,” Akhtar said. “I want the reporter and his editor to come to court to explain.”

Manjeet, in his oral application, had said all parties involved should be asked to come to court to retract their statement and apologise.

He said the order from the judge should extend to all who did not respect the court.

Akhtar said: “You journalists must take heed and inform people above you that this action is subjudice and you can be held in contempt of court.”

In the trial-within-a-trial, ASP M. Mariappan, who is attached to the Selangor Police headquarters, said the second and third accused T. Thilaiyalagan and R. Matan had been transferred from Gombak to Kuang and Kundang near here, respectively on Sept 11 last year.

This was for their own safety considering that it was a high profile case touching communal sensitivities, he said.

Responding to a question, Mariappan said most of those locked up at the Gombak police headquarters were Malays, and he did not want them to be involved in any conflict with the accused.

Pathmanabhan, 42, and farm hands Thilaiyalagan, 20, Matan, 21, and K. Kathavarayan, 31, are charged with murdering Sosilawati, 47, her driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 47, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and CIMB officer Noorhisham Mohammad, 38.

They are alleged to have committed the murders in Jalan Tanjung Layang at Tanjung Sepat in Banting near here between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on Aug 30 last year.

The hearing continues Friday.