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Legless body in suitcase: Pakistani duo to hang for murder

Legless body in suitcase: Pakistani duo to hang for murder
Ramzan Rizwan (in red) and Rasheed Muhammad (second from right facing camera) arrived at the State Courts on June 14, 2014. Photo: Don Wong

Legless body in suitcase: Pakistani duo to hang for murder

SINGAPORE — As much as the two Pakistani nationals had tried to shift the blame of murdering their compatriot to each other, their lies fell apart after photographs and closed-circuit television footage showed them going to Mustafa Centre together to buy a saw and two suitcases. The saw was later used to dismember the victim, and the luggage to stow his body parts.

On Friday (Feb 17) in High Court, Justice Choo Han Teck sentenced the two men to hang. He said, “The video footage and photographs show the two men acting as a team. Not many who have just killed another can be free of internal turmoil or frenzy, but if Rasheed and Ramzan were nervous, that was not apparent.”

Rasheed Muhammad, 46, and Ramzan Rizwan, 28, were convicted of murdering Muhammad Noor on June 11, 2014, at a lodging house along Rowell Road in Little India. All three were here on social visit passes, and were staying there.

After suffocating their 59-year-old victim with a shirt and strangling him with a string from a pair of Punjabi pants, they took about S$6,000 from him, dismembered him, and stashed his torso and legs in two suitcases.

They wanted to dump both suitcases at Jalan Kubor Muslim Cemetery in Kampong Glam nearby, but the plan went awry after one of the wheels of the case containing the torso broke.

The bloodied grey luggage was found abandoned at Syed Alwi Road in Little India by a member of the public.

Both Rasheed and Ramzan admitted to gambling with the victim, but their accounts of the events leading up to the murder differed.

Rasheed said that he had made a profit of S$200 to S$300, but Ramzan had lost money and hatched the plan to kill the victim.

He also claimed that Ramzan had threatened to hurt his family in Pakistan if he did not help in the murder.

Ramzan’s account was that he had lost money to the victim during a gambling session two days before the murder. He then pleaded without success for the money to be returned. During a second round of gambling on the day of the murder, he repeated the same pleas in vain.

All of a sudden, Rasheed smothered the victim with his shirt, Ramzan said. He then asked Ramzan to hold onto the shirt, while he used a string to strangle the victim.

A forensic pathologist found that the victim had died after being smothered, and the other injuries — including abrasions across the neck — might have been inflicted after the victim was dead or near death.

Delivering his judgment on Friday, Justice Choo said he did not believe Rasheed was threatened and frightened into helping Ramzan.

‘”He is senior to Ramzan by 18 years … Rasheed was the leader by the manner and appearance of both men in court, particularly when they were being cross-examined,” he said.

The threat of hurting Rasheed’s family lacked credibility as well, given that they were in Pakistan and not “easily reachable” by Ramzan.

The plan, Justice Choo said, was to strangle the victim with the string, and to prevent him from “raising the alarm” by covering his mouth with Rasheed’s shirt. “Ironically, the smothering killed Muhammad Noor before the nara (string) could do its job,” he added.

Motivated by money, the duo had murdered the victim to avoid being identified after the robbery, Justice Choo said.

“The plan required two persons. It was not an act that one man could safely and competently execute. I do not think that one man alone could have carried out the dismemberment of Muhammad Noor’s body.”