Man who killed ex-fiancee is first person to be executed for murder in Singapore since 2019

SINGAPORE: A man who strangled his former fiancee in a budget hotel in Geylang in 2018 was hanged on Wednesday (Feb 28).

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said the capital sentence was carried out on Bangladeshi national Ahmed Salim, 35, who had petitioned to the President for clemency but was unsuccessful.

This is the first judicial execution for murder in the Republic since 2019, a Singapore Prison Service (SPS) spokesman told The Straits Times on Feb 28, in response to queries. He added that it is the first execution in 2024.

Ahmed, a painter, had strangled Indonesian domestic worker Nurhidayati Wartono Surata in a room at the Golden Dragon Hotel on the evening of Dec 30, 2018, after she refused to leave another man she was seeing.

Ahmed was charged with murder on Jan 2, 2019, and sentenced to death on Dec 14, 2020.

An appeal against his conviction was dismissed on Jan 19, 2022.

SPF said Ahmed was accorded full due process under the law, and had access to legal counsel throughout the process.

According to statistics from SPS, the last person to be hanged for murder before Ahmed was in 2019, when there were two such judicial executions. There were four executions that year.

There were no judicial executions in 2020 and 2021, which SPS had previously said was not due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead, it said an execution is scheduled only after legal processes relevant to an inmate’s death sentence and legal applications taken out on their behalf, or which could affect them, are resolved.

In recent years, there have been multiple cases of murder charges being reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

They included a teenager who slashed a fellow student to death at River Valley High School in 2021. He was sentenced to 16 years’ jail in Dec 2023.

In another case, Xavier Yap Jung Houn was sentenced to 14 years’ jail in August 2023, after strangling his 11-year-old twins at a covered canal in Greenridge Crescent in 2022.

During Ahmed’s court proceedings, it was revealed that he and Nurhidayati had started a relationship in May 2012 after a chance encounter.

They agreed to get married in December 2018, with Ahmed putting a ring on her finger at a party in 2017.

But she had an affair with a Bangladeshi plumber, Shamin Shamizur Rahman, in mid-2018.

Ahmed confronted her after suspecting that she was cheating on him, and she admitted to dating another man.

Ahmed then asked his mother to help him look for a wife. She found one and arrangements were made for his wedding to take place in February 2019.

But a few months later, Ahmed and Nurhidayati reconciled.

However, they quarrelled over her infidelity and on one occasion, while they were in a hotel room, Ahmed pressed a towel over her mouth. He let go after she struggled.

In late 2018, Nurhidayati began talking to Bangladeshi general fitter Hanifa Mohammad Abu on Facebook.

She later told Hanifa that she was in a relationship with Ahmed and promised she would make a clean break with Ahmed.

On Dec 9, 2018, Nurhidayati told Ahmed that she had a new boyfriend and that he should return to Bangladesh for his arranged marriage.

While she told him during a meeting on Dec 23 that year that she would continue seeing him, she later broke up with him over a phone call.

Ahmed convinced her to meet him again seven days later and they had sex at a hotel.

He threatened to kill Nurhidayati if she did not end her relationship with Hanifa. When she refused, Ahmed strangled her with a towel.

A judge found that Ahmed had decided to kill Nurhidayati even before Dec 30, 2018, so long as she refused to leave her new boyfriend and return to him.

This was because he had brought a rope to the hotel and had cleared out his bank account earlier on the day of the murder, among other things.

Ahmed was represented by a team of lawyers – Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Hamza Malik.

On Feb 28, Thuraisingam told ST that they had argued hard that Ahmed’s adjustment disorder had impaired his mental responsibility for the offence of murder, and that he should be spared the death penalty and be sentenced to life imprisonment instead.

He said: “We were unable to convince the court of this. The court was of the view that he knew what he was doing was wrong, and he did not lose control of himself.”

Thuraisingam, who has regularly taken on capital cases since 2012, was interviewed by ST recently on a feature on the mental and emotional toll faced by defence lawyers and prosecutors handling death penalty cases.

He spoke about the high stakes for defence lawyers who handle such cases.

On Ahmed, Thuraisingam said: “We gave it our all and really tried our best for him. It has, however, now come to a stage where the law has to take its course, and we have to accept and respect that.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , murder , court , Bangladeshi , fiancee , execution


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