GEORGE TOWN, Oct 3 — The Penang High Court today acquitted and discharged five men over the murder of T. Nhaveen in 2017.
Justice Radzi Hamid said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the five due to various inconsistencies in the evidence produced.
The five men, who were immediately released after the judge delivered his decision, are S. Gopinaath, 32, J. Ragesuthan, 24, S. Gokulan, 24, V. Sharmah, 24 and K. Tatisan, 23.
The five men were charged with jointly murdering Nhaveen at the Jalan Bunga Raya park sometime between 11pm and midnight on June 9, 2017.
When reading his grounds for the decision, Justice Radzi said the key witness in the case, Previin, was found to be unreliable.
“The court finds that the facts and evidence presented for the murder charge were unclear and does not prove that the five accused had intentions to kill the victim,” he said.
He said there were serious doubts in the case against the suspects.
“The police has failed to conduct investigations into this case fairly,” he said.
He added that the prosecution has also failed to call in other corroborating witnesses to support Previin’s testimony in court, and added that Previin had presented contradictory evidence and was not credible.
“Due to his lack of credibility, his testimonies heard in court are rejected and could not be used as evidence for this case,” he said.
The five men and their lawyers, Datuk Naran Singh (left) and Manveer Singh (right), outside the courtroom. — Picture by Opalyn Mok
Although there was evidence that Nhaveen succumbed to his injuries including blunt force trauma to the head a few days after the incident, Justice Radzi said there were no clear details of what happened that day.
The five men were also discharged and released from a second charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons on Previin near the Karpal Singh Learning Centre in Bukit Gelugor at the same time and day as Nhaveen’s murder.
Justice Radzi said since Previin’s testimony was found to be not credible and was fully rejected in the murder case, his testimony for the assault case similarly could not be accepted.
Immediately after he ordered for the five men to be immediately released, there were muffled cries of relief from the men’s family members sitting in the public gallery.
The five men were respectively represented by Manveer Singh Dhillon, S. Yagoo and Datuk Naran Singh while Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Azhar Hamzah prosecuted the case.
Nhaveen, who was 18 years old, was reportedly on his way home with his friend, Previin, when they got into an altercation with a group of boys.
It was reported that both Nhaveen and Previin were beaten but the latter managed to escape and get help.
Nhaveen was later found unconscious in a field next to Jalan Kaki Bukit in Bukit Gelugor. He was subsequently declared brain dead and succumbed to his injuries five days later.