KUALA LUMPUR: The trial of an engineer accused of murdering marketing executive Noritta Samsudin began in the High Court yesterday with the prosecution pledging to prove that the 22-year-old woman was a victim of a crime of passion sparked by jealousy.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stanley Augustin said in the opening statement that the prosecution would show evidence that the woman had died of asphyxia, which was consistent with her being choked by the accused Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman.
Augustin also sought to crush Hanif’s alibi evidence, claiming that he was at home with his wife at the time of the murder, by adducing evidence that he was the last person to be with her before her death on Dec 5.
Listening calmly to this statement from the dock was the 37-year-old Hanif, smartly attired in a long-sleeve blue shirt and a black suit.
The former engineer with the Shah Alam city council denied committing the murder at No D-7-1, Puncak Prima Galleria Condominium, Jalan 17, Sri Hartamas, between 1.30am and 4am on Dec 5. He would be sent to the gallows if found guilty of the offence.
At the outset of the hearing yesterday, Hanif’s mother was heard asking the six footer who had lost some pounds since he was charged in court in December if he needed a belt for his loose trousers and a blazer to shield the cold.
His wife, seated two rows away, could not hold back her tears.
Eight witnesses, from a list of more than 80, testified yesterday.
They included Noritta’s father, a younger sister and an aunt, her boss, her colleague and a man who claimed to be the deceased’s very close friend.
Her father, Samsudin Ahmad, 56, broke down while testifying when he was asked to identify Noritta through a photograph taken during post-mortem.
The retiree spoke about Noritta’s education background in accounting and with whom she was living with here.
He also pointed out that his daughter had brought home a friend called Lim Sin Kean Child’s to their house in Pokok Sena, Kedah, last Hari Raya.
Sister Safinaz Samsudin, 19, said she had once accompanied Noritta to Bagan Lalang in Sepang for a dinner with Hanif and they had also gone to HardRock Cafe.
Lim later denied in court that he had had a sexual affair with Noritta in the five months he had known her prior to her death.
The 39-nine-year-old businessman, said he first came to know Noritta at the end of July last year while attending a party at a karaoke lounge called Crystal Club near Damansara Intan.
“We exchanged handphone numbers but our relationship was platonic,” said the Tivolli Villas-based Lim.
He, however, admitted paying for some of her expenses, giving her duit raya of RM1,000 and seeing her two to three times a week.
Lim said he had been to her apartment only about five times and never spent a night there and they met mostly at cafes in Sri Hartamas.
He also related to the court the various trips that he had made to Kedah, Perlis and Singapore with Noritta and some of her family members.
Lim said he normally dropped Noritta off at her relatives’ when he went outstation for business meetings.
Lim said he last sent Noritta an SMS at 12.30am on Dec 5 to check on how she was feeling as she had earlier complained of not feeling well.
When asked by Augustin, Lim described his relationship with Noritta as not intimate but “very very close”.
During cross-examination, defence counsel V. Sithambaram suggested that for Lim to admit to an illicit affair with Noritta would jeopardise his marriage.
Lim: She knew about all the rumours from the newspapers. She knew about the friendship.
Counsel: Do you think she’s (Noritta) pretty?
Counsel: Is she desirable?
Lim: I think she is okay.
Lim described her as someone who did not talk about personal problems besides her family.
Hearing continues today.