Four Indians, including a lawyer, were sentenced to death May 23 by a Malaysian court for the gruesome killing of a glamorous cosmetics tycoon and three of her associates in 2010 in a land deal gone awry.
The Malaysian High Court found lawyer N. Pathmanabhan, 44, T. Thilaiyalagan, 22, R. Matan, 23, and R. Kathavarayan, 33, guilty of murdering Sosilawati, 47, at a farm in Banting town near here Aug. 30.
Three other victims were identified as bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44. The victims’ bodies were torched and the remains were scattered in a stream at the farm, according to police.
The cosmetics millionaire’s initial disappearance along with her aides, and eventual discovery of their bones at the farm, hogged the headlines in the country for months.
At that time there were reports of an Indian national also missing after he had come over to meet Pathmanabhan. His wife flew to Malaysia to file a case, but the issue later died down.
Judge Akhtar Tahir said Pathmanabhan and his farmhands had made no attempts to discredit the evidence of telephone records, a cogent proof that Sosilawati and her three companions went to the farm belonging to Pathmanabhan, and that the defense did not challenge the discovery of blood and human bones at the farm.
“The probable motive and reason to kill Sosilawati was Pathmanabhan’s inability to honor the check issued to her,” the judge said.
“He (Pathmanabhan) testified about two land deals, both of which he was involved in. He acted for two opposing sides (with Sosilawati as the seller of the land) on the same matter as well as acquiring an interest in the transactions,” he said.
Pathmanabhan’s actions were unethical and had compromised his impartiality, the judge said, adding that the other victims were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.