Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Malaysia accused may be serial killers: Police

TANJUNG SEPAT, Malaysia, Sept 14, 2010 (AFP) – Malaysian police were Tuesday investigating suspicions that two lawyer brothers detained over the murder of a cosmetics millionaire may be serial killers with up to eight victims.
Authorities said on the weekend that Sosilawati Lawiya, a 47-year-old entrepreneur, and three of her associates had been murdered, their bodies burnt and the ashes thrown into a river. 
Police detained two brothers, both controversial lawyers who have had run-ins with legal authorities, as the main suspects together with six workers at their farm in the central state of Selangor.
Sosilawati, who founded Malaysia's popular Nouvelle Visages line of cosmetics, was reported missing on August 30 along with her driver, lawyer and a bank officer, after going to discuss a land deal with the accused pair.
Criminal Investigations Department chief Mohamad Bakri Zinin said the disappearances of four other individuals connected with the brothers were now being probed.
"We are carrying out investigations into the disappearance of four others who are believed to be linked to the main suspects as there are similarities," he told AFP.
Malaysian press said that an Indian woman filed a missing persons report last week over the disappearance of her millionaire lawyer husband who had travelled to Malaysia to meet the brothers in January.


S. Usharani, 24, told the New Straits Times newspaper that her husband, Allal Kanthan Muthu Raja, who owns jewellery shops, plantations, hotels and restaurants in India, disappeared after flying in for the meeting.
"My husband had been partners with the brothers for almost 10 years. So when they called on January 16 and asked him to bring along cash, he did not hesitate," she told the paper.
Usharani said she called the brothers when her husband did not return and they told her he had been arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into Malaysia.
The daily quoted police sources as saying that Allal was one of the four missing persons believed linked to the brothers. The others were three ethnic-Indian Malaysians who had gone missing over the past three years.
Residents of the idyllic fishing village near the site of the murders in the sleepy Tanjung Sepat region were Tuesday still in shock over the gruesome affair.
Mostly fisherman and workers in nearby palm oil estates, residents of Taman Endah, which is famous for its seafood, gathered at a bridge overlooking the Kancung Laut river as police divers searched for remains and murder weapons.
A senior forensic official told AFP that police have so far located a knife and a watch in the murky waters.
"We will continue our search until we find more evidence," said the official, who declined to be named.
Villagers said they were shocked at the allegations against the pair who were seen locally as pillars of the community, and known for their charitable works and free legal services for the needy.
G. Krishnan, 60, said he had known the brothers since they were five years old and said their family was a prominent one in the area.
"They have helped out foreign Indian workers who have not been paid, they have also highlighted the plight of locals who need assistance from authorities, they also help people out financially," he said.
Newspaper reports said Sosilawati had hired one of the brothers to handle a land deal in Penang state which then fell through, and she had been seeking the return of her money.
A Malaysian Bar Council official told AFP that the two brothers were disbarred in November last year but were appealing against the decision.
"The two had misrepresented themselves as advocates and solicitors by furnishing false power-of-attorney documents and in unsavoury conveyancing practices," he said.


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