SINGAPORE: An Indonesian maid accused of murdering her employer and stabbing the late woman’s husband gave a police statement “under oppression”, the defence claimed on Tuesday (Aug 13).
Lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed, who was appointed by the Indonesian embassy, told the court that Daryati had been feeling nauseous and giddy and did not give the statement voluntarily.
Daryati, who turns 27 tomorrow, is contesting a charge of murdering her 59-year-old employer Seow Kim Choo in her Telok Kurau home on Jun 7, 2016, after two months of working for her.
She allegedly stabbed and cut her nearly 100 times after weeks of planning, recorded in her diary. According to the prosecution, she was homesick and longing for her lover in Hong Kong.
She is also accused of stabbing Madam Seow’s husband, Mr Ong Thiam Soon, when he broke into the locked washroom to check on his wife.
Tuesday’s hearing opened with an ancillary hearing into a statement Daryati gave to Inspector Mahathir Mohamad on Jun 8, 2016, a day after the incident.
Mr Mahathir, who is now Assistant Superintendent of Police, told the court that he had gone to Changi General Hospital, where Daryati was held.
He took a statement from her, speaking to her in her native Indonesian, after a doctor conducted a medical examination on her.
According to Mr Mahathir, Daryati had a “normal” demeanour and was cooperative, sobbing at times.
She was in a position to give a statement, he said, as he had asked her before and during statement-taking, whether she was “OK to give a statement” and she said she was.
Defence counsel Mr Muzammil challenged the statement, saying his client had been giddy and nauseous at the time.
He cited the statements of two prosecution witnesses, who said Daryati sustained deep cuts on her palms, complained of pain and said that she had “banged her head on the toilet sink” while in the ambulance.
She was also crying and complained of giddiness and nausea to the paramedics.
“That was her condition when she was conveyed from Telok Kurau, the scene of the incident, to CGH on Jun 7,” said Mr Muzammil.
Mr Muzammil put it to Mr Mahathir that his client was “not medically fit” to give a statement to him.
“I put it to you that you had taken upon yourself to interview and record a statement from Daryati without even referring to the doctor in charge to confirm if she was medically fit to undergo such an exercise conducted by you,” said the lawyer.
The police officer disagreed.
“I further put it to you that the statement she gave to you was not voluntary as she was under a state of oppression,” Mr Muzammil added.
“She was suffering from pain of the injuries suffered by her, she was still having giddiness when her head knocked onto the toilet sink, and she still had the feeling of nausea when you recorded the statement from her,” he said.
In response, the police officer said he had interviewed Daryati at about 12.30pm on Jun 8, hours after the incident the night before, and that “ample medical assistance” was given to her in this time.
ACCUSED HAD BREAST PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAN
Mr Mahathir was also questioned on whether he had helped Daryati apply her thumbprint to documents, as a medical examination had found that she was unable to move her thumb due to pain.
“There’s a difference between a medical examination and appending a person’s thumbprint,” the officer said in response to the defence lawyer’s questions. “Being medically examined would require a lot of movement. Appending a thumbprint is merely putting it (there).”
He maintained that Daryati had not complained to him of nausea and that she had raised the issue with him, he would have stopped the statement-taking process and referred her to medical staff.
The defence also questioned Mr Mahathir on why a male photographer had been assigned to take pictures of Daryati, as photos taken of her included pictures of injuries on her neck and left breast.
“What do you think of a young girl having her breast photographed by a male photographer?” Mr Muzammil questioned. He asked the officer whether he thought it was “very distasteful” for Daryati to have a “sensitive part” of her body photographed by a man.
“Your honour, these are all professionally done, in the presence of a female police officer,” replied Mr Mahathir, saying that the injuries “needed to be photographed”.
When asked why he had not assigned a female police photographer the job, Mr Mahathir said he had “just activated the duty officer of the forensic management branch”.
The ancillary hearing is expected to continue for the rest of the week.
If found guilty of murder with the intention of causing death, she faces the death penalty.
A second charge of attempted murder of Mr Ong has been stood down.