Court of Appeal grants bail to MasterChef finalist in murder case

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The Court of Appeal today granted bail to a mother of three who had been charged together with her husband with the murder of their maid.

Judges Datuk Lee Swee Seng, Datuk Supang Lian and Datuk Gunalan Muniandy unanimously decided to grant bail to Etiqah Siti Noorashikeen Mohd Sulong, 33.

The court held that they found merits in the application under special circumstances, justifying the exercise of the court’s discretion to grant bail, as she is a mother who is currently breastfeeding.

Murder is a non-bailable offence but the courts have the power to exercise discretion under special circumstances.

Etiqah, an engineer with an oil company, was granted bail of RM30,000 with one local surety.

The former MasterChef Malaysia finalist was, however, ordered to surrender her passport and all her travel documents to the Kota Kinabalu Magistrates’ Court.

The court also ordered her to report to the Penampang police headquarters at noon every Monday.

On Dec 29 last year, Etiqah was jointly charged with her contractor husband, Mohammad Ambree Yunos @ Unos, 40, with murdering their 28-year-old Indonesian maid, Nur Afiah Daeng Damin.

The alleged offence took place at a home in Amber Tower, Lido Avenue, Jalan Lintas, Penampang, between Dec 10 and 13, 2021.

The charge, under Section 302 of the Penal Code read together with Section 34 of the same code, provides for a mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

Etiqah, who was represented by counsel Datuk Rakhbir Singh, filed a notice of motion to the High Court to exercise its discretion under Section 388 of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, on March 31, High Court Judicial Commissioner Amelati Parnell dismissed the motion.

Etiqah and her counsel then appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The court’s proceedings today were via Zoom from Putrajaya. Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar appeared for the prosecution.

According to Rakhbir, he among others submitted that Etiqah was breastfeeding and taking care of her three young children.

Etiqa was seen in tears outside the courtroom while hugging one of her children.

During a previous hearing, the magistrate’s court fixed May 17 for re-mention, pending the production of the deceased’s post-mortem report.

This was the second time that bail was granted in Sabah for a non-bailable offence.

The previous case involved a wheelchair-bound businessman Hobalan N Vello, who was released on RM200,000 bail with a RM50,000 deposit with two sureties.

Hobalan was accused of murdering Albert @ Recquel A Agang, 53, between 11.30pm on Dec 18, 2020, and 12.05am on Dec 19, 2020, outside My Heaven Seafood restaurant in Beaufort.