Penang shooting: Accused bodyguard says he can't afford a lawyer

GEORGE TOWN: The bodyguard accused of going on a shooting spree at the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway last December, killing a businessman and suspected gang leader with a "Datuk" title, among others, says he cannot afford a lawyer.

Ja'afar Halid (pic), 38, was brought before four courts on Wednesday, but will have his cases mentioned again pending medical reports on the victims.

The first proceeding of the day covered the charge of attempted murder.

Sessions Court judge Roslan Hamid asked the accused if he wished to appoint a counsel.

"I want to appoint a counsel but I cannot afford it," Ja'afar replied.

Roslan urged him to engage a counsel through the National Legal Aid Foundation.

Ja'afar had earlier claimed trial to attempting to murder K. Arivarni, 34, who suffered a head wound; TNB Bhd assistant manager Nurul Huda Ab Aziz, 39, who was shot in her shoulder; and factory worker Lee Hong Boon, 57, who was shot in the chest.

He was charged with committing the offences between 7.15pm and 7.30pm near the intersection to the Penang Bridge at the expressway on Dec 1 last year.

In another Sessions Court proceeding, also heard by Roslan, Ja'afar denied trying to murder RTM videographer Mohamad Amirul Amin Mohamed Amer, 29, who was shot in the chest; and bank worker Puoh Bee Joo, 33, who suffered a shoulder injury, at the same time and place.

The offences, under Section 307 of the Penal Code, each carries a maximum jail term of 20 years upon conviction.

Also on Wednesday at a magistrate's court, Ja'afar was charged with killing businessman Datuk Ong Teik Kwong, 32, professional clown Choi Hon Ming, 32, and flower supplier M. Senthil, 38, under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

Police have identified Ong as the deputy leader of the notorious Gang 24 in Penang. The gang's No 1 is suspected to be businessman Datuk Seri Ng Chian Sia, who was arrested along with 21 others in a crackdown late January.

Ja'afar was charged with using a Glock 19 Gen 4 firearm to shoot the back of Ong's head, Choi's chest and right thigh, and Senthil's chest.

Spotted in the magistrate's court was Hon Ming's sister Poh Peng, 38, who declined to comment when approached by journalists after the case was mentioned.

She only smiled and nodded when asked if she was there to follow the court case concerning her deceased brother.

In another magistrate's court, Ja'afar denied injuring Lim Boon Leng, 33, by pistol-whipping him on the head at the same time and place, an offence under Section 324 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years, whipping or a fine, or any two of these punishments.

In all the above proceedings, case mention was set for April 24.