Former policeman-turned-murderer Iskandar Rahmat, 37, was bombarded with questions in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday (Oct 26), when he argued that he killed car-workshop owner Tan Boon Sin and his son Tan Chee Heong because they confronted him first.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang — who presided over the hearing — said that they “struggled” to understand how the older Tan, who was “clearly comfortable” with Iskandar’s presence in his home, could have suddenly launched an attack on him.
At the end of the hearing, the court reserved its judgment on Iskandar’s appeal against his conviction and the death sentence.
During the proceedings, defence lawyer Wendell Wong reiterated that Iskandar’s “simple plan” on July 10, 2013, was to rob the older Tan at his house in the Kovan Road area and flee, but things went south when the 67-year-old discovered his trickery.
Iskandar, a 14-year veteran in the police force then, was forced to fight off a knife-wielding Tan to protect himself, and Tan died from his injuries during the scuffle, Mr Wong argued.
Earlier, lying to Tan that he was an intelligence officer, Iskandar had convinced him to place a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera — which was a dummy — inside Tan’s safe deposit box at Certis Cisco in Paya Lebar and to remove his money from it, in order to help the police nab the thief who was stealing from the box.
A bag containing S$600,000 and other valuables were then taken to Tan’s home.
Questioning the defence’s account, Chief Justice Menon said: “He believed your client was conducting the sting op and he was comfortable with that ... How he suddenly went from there to become an enraged person to attack your client with a knife is something I struggle with ... For him to be motivated to pick up a knife and go after (Iskandar), he must have moved from comfort to discomfort to certainty that he had been cheated. I cannot fathom how that could have happened.”
To Mr Wong’s argument that Tan hid his bag of money because his suspicion was aroused about Iskandar’s scheme, Justice Phang replied: “What do you do with valuables in your house? Do you keep them in your living room? Would you keep them in plain sight?”
Mr Wong also argued that Iskandar had no intention of killing the younger Tan, 42, who had reached home to see his father in a pool of blood. It was the son who “lunged at” Iskandar first, the lawyer said.
However, the prosecution charged that Iskandar had killed the younger Tan to “silence him”.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lee Lit Cheng said that the father could not have “suddenly discovered” that the camera was fake, and although he exchanged phone calls with his son, he could not have alerted the younger Tan to Iskandar’s ploy. If so, the son would have rushed to the house, but CCTV footage clearly showed him walking in an “unhurried manner”, she said. “It’s a clear case of double murder,” DPP Lee said.
On Wednesday, Mr Wong also sought to admit two new medical reports.
The first was a psychiatric report stating that Iskandar suffered acute stress reaction and an adjustment disorder during the offences, which could qualify him for the defence of diminished responsibility.
The other was a forensic pathology report suggesting that the cuts he suffered could be “defensive in nature”. The court has not decided if the reports could be used as evidence.
Several of Iskandar’s family members were given some time with him after the appeal, which lasted more than three hours.
Last December, Iskandar was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang after a nine-day trial.
On the day of the killings, Tan Chee Heong’s body was dragged along Upper Serangoon Road under a car before being dislodged outside Kovan MRT Station. The bloody trail led back to his father’s house at Hillside Drive, about 1km away, where Tan Boon Sin’s body was found with multiple stab wounds. After a 54-hour manhunt, Iskandar was arrested on July 12 in Johor Baru, Malaysia.