The widow of Hussain Ahmad Najadi delivered a harrowing statement amidst sobs in the retrial of a former tow-truck driver who was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of the Arab-Malaysian bank founder.
The long-awaited justice sought by Hussain Ahmad Najadi’s widow Cheong Mei Kuen was finally delivered when the High Court sentenced former tow-truck driver Koong Swee Kwan, 48, to the gallows.
Judicial Commissioner Ab Karim Ab Rahman also meted out a sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment to Koong for the attempted murder of Cheong.
Koong’s jail sentence will run from the date of his arrest on Sept 22, 2013.
Wearing a white singlet and black pants, Kong was calm when the judge imposed the sentence.
The judge handed down the sentences after the defence failed to raise reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.
“I find that the accused’s evidence is a concoction, an afterthought and inherently improbable, which do not create any doubt,” he said in his oral judgment yesterday.
Ab Karim said Koong had apportioned blame on taxi driver Chew Siang Chee for the crimes but surprisingly fled the scene in the same vehicle.
He also pointed out that Koong could have lodged a police report if he was innocent.
“Even after his arrest, he did not offer assistance to the police during investigation,” he said.
Ab Karim added that the prosecution’s case was strengthened as Cheong and another witness positively identified Koong being at the crime scene while forensic evidence showed a firearm was used to shoot at close range.
He said the injury suffered by the victim was serious and that the case involved the use of a firearm in broad daylight and in a public place.
“The accused used a pistol to shoot Cheong’s husband right before her eyes, causing her to suffer endless trauma,” the judge said.
The murder of the 75-year-old Arab-Malaysian bank founder, which shocked the nation, was committed in the parking lot of the Kuan Yin Temple near Lorong Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, between 1.30pm and 2pm on July 29, 2013.
Koong, known as Sei Ngan Chai (bespectacled guy), shot Najadi twice in the chest, killing the banker on the spot, and wounded Cheong as the couple emerged from the temple. The widow was hit in the left hand and right leg.
He was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries a mandatory death sentence on conviction.
For attempting to murder Cheong and causing her injury, he was charged under Section 307 of the Penal Code which provides a jail term of up to 20 years if convicted.
Seventeen prosecution witnesses gave their testimony while the defence put forward two witnesses, including Koong, in the retrial which began on March 16.
Ab Karim granted a stay pending the appeal.
On Sept 5, 2014, High Court judge Justice Mohd Azman Husin convicted Koong for the offences and sentenced him to death for Najadi’s murder and 18 years’ jail for the attempted murder.
However, on Dec 14, 2016, the Federal Court’s five-man bench set aside Koong’s conviction and ordered a retrial on the grounds that the initial trial had been prejudicial to him since Justice Azman had heard and dismissed the appeal of another accused involved in the case – taxi driver Chew.
Chew was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail on two charges by the Sessions Court for possessing a pistol and live bullets, but he was acquitted by the Court of Appeal in 2015.
Clad in a black suit and white scarf, Cheong was present in court to deliver her victim impact statement before Ab Karim.
She said she had been traumatised physically and emotionally by the crime. Unable to contain her emotions, she sobbed on the witness stand.
“For two long years, I was essentially bedridden, confined in my modest home, reliving the horror over and over in my mind like a horror movie, to the point where it could have permanently driven me mad.
“With the loss of my husband, I had no one to share my sorrows with. Even my family members moved on with their lives, but I could not,” she told the court.
“Today, in front of my eyes, sits the killer who shot and killed my husband.
“The ‘hired killer’ killed for a price, a sum of money paid to do this cruel job, with no thought to the repercussions.
“My husband was shot many times and the last bullet pierced his heart and ruptured it, ending his life,” Cheong said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I lost a husband who was the salt of the earth. My mental peace will never be restored.
“Who will give back to me what I have lost?
“Time cannot heal my pain and trauma, as it is beyond comprehension how a person could do this to another human being,” the widow said.
“I almost bled to death. I slipped into a coma. I sustained severe injuries, loss of capabilities and mobility, second stage haemorrhagic shock, mental torment, depression, palpitations and poor visibility.
“The killer shot us with immense cruelty. But the cruellest part is what he left behind – a grieving widow who has been gravely traumatised in mind and body,” said Cheong.
She added that she also suffered slander, libel and false statements made by some irresponsible parties.