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Murder at Kepayan Prison: ‘Inmate behaved strangely, asked for tobacco’
Published on: Tuesday, May 23, 2023
By: Jo Ann Mool
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Murder at Kepayan Prison: ‘Inmate behaved strangely, asked for tobacco’
Azman said in his witness statement on Monday that he and other wardens, who escorted Shainal placed him at cell number 11 at Gemilang Block.
Kota Kinabalu: A prosecution’s witness in the trial of 10 prison personnel charged with murdering an inmate at Central Prison four years ago, informed the High Court that the inmate behaved strangely because he asked for tobacco which is a prohibited article in prison.

Prison warden Sergeant Major Azman Sulaiman, a security section head at the Central Prison here, told Judge Datuk Christopher Chin that he identified the said inmate by the name of Shainal Mukhtar while escorting him from the prison clinic to the isolation block (Gemilang Block) which was approximately 200 metres away, in the evening of Oct 2, 2019.

Azman said in his witness statement on Monday that he and other wardens, who escorted Shainal placed him at cell number 11 at Gemilang Block.

Azman said Shainal behaved strangely because he often asked for tobacco repeatedly during the journey from the clinic to Gemilang Block and was placed in Cell 11.

“To me, it is a bit strange because if the prisoners were normal they would not dare to speak or ask any prison officer for tobacco,” said Azman.

The witness said he then informed warden Shahryll who was on duty at the isolation cell to inform the block chief that the said inmate was behaving strangely before leaving.

“While on the way from the clinic to the isolation block, I already felt that Shainal was in a strange state, among which he asked me to give him tobacco. Tobacco is a prohibited article in prison,” Azman explained.

To a question by the prosecution, Azman said he already knew Shainal before he was sent to Paradise Camp, Kota Belud, as he used to work in the Office Record Section at the Kota Kinabalu Central Prison.

“Before that, he was normal like any ordinary inmates and that was why because I asked him that,” said Azman referring to his statement in which he asked Shainal why he behaved in such an aggressive manner when in the prison clinic.

Azman confirmed that he had met Shainal in Kepayan Prison before he was sent to Paradise Camp, Kota Belud.

“At that time he was still working at the record office, we asked him to do photocopy work, but I do not remember the date because it was a long time ago. I do not even know when he was sent to Paradise Camp. I only knew after he was no longer at the record office,” he said.

Asked about Shainal’s behaviour while working in the record office of Kepayan Prison, before being sent to Paradise Camp, Azman said his character was normal like an ordinary person.

The witness also identified Shainal through a picture referred to him by the prosecution.

On trial were Prison Inspector Dzulfikri Mohd Safri, 28, and wardens Barry Jipmon, 30, Farizan Mokri, 40, Mohd Saiful Saidin, 34, Amran Yasik, 25, Ab Mutalib @ Talib Abd Rasul, 40, Zerry Maidin, 33, Tomy Momoh, 36, Shahryll Nazry Wan Sofian, 25, and Muhammad Fazi Lakui, 32.

They were all jointly accused of murdering Shainal Mukhtar, 36, in cell number 11, Gemilang Block, at Kota Kinabalu Central Prison, Jalan Kepayan near here at 4.20pm, between Oct 2 and Oct 4, 2019.

The 10 accused had on Aug 24, 2020 claimed trial to the charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the death penalty, on conviction.

Azman said further that around 7.10pm the same day on Oct 2, 2019, he received a call from Sergeant Farizan informing him that Shainal had acted aggressively by shouting and asking for tobacco.

He said at around 7.15pm Warden Fazi came to the security section head (UKP Office), in which he was on stand-by, to take a strait-jacket but he informed Fazi to refer to the officer-in-charge first before using it.

The witness said he was contacted by Sergeant Farizan, who informed him that they had received permission from the officer-in-charge to use it if necessary and that until he finished duty at 9pm, he did not receive any report.

Azman further stated that on Oct 5, 2019 he found out from a colleague, Sergeant Saini, who told him about the case of the death of a prisoner in which he asked whether the prisoner died in hospital or in the block.

The witness stated that the sergeant told him that it was the one they sent to the isolation cell.

Shocked by the news, Azman asked about the cause of his death.

“The sergeant told me, the inmate was choked to death while eating bread. That’s all I know,” said Azman.

Director of Prosecution Sabah Muhammad Ilmami Ahmad together with Deputy Public Prosecutors Rustam Sanip, Nur Faezah Jafry and Mas Izzaty Lokman appeared for the prosecution.

Counsel PJ Perira, Dominic Chew and Ariel Dasan are representing Dzulfikri, Farizan, Saiful, Mutalib and Zerry while counsel Hairul Vaiyron Othman defending Barry, Amran, Tommy, Shahryll and Fazi.

Trial continues.

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