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PUTRAJAYA, Jan 19, 2016:

Three men escaped the hangman’s noose after the Federal Court here today acquitted and discharged them over the murder of former Ipoh Barat MIC division treasurer N. Sindambaram in Perak about seven years ago.

A three-man bench led by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif ruled that, based on evidence before the court, the convictions of salesman A. Manimaran, trader S. Saravanan and security guard K. Perumal were unsafe.

Upon hearing the verdict, Saravanan, 32, stomped his feet with joy while Manimaran, 27, began to weep. On the other hand, Perumal, 34, did not display any emotion.

Their family members who were sitting at the public gallery were seen in tears of joy as they stood thanking the court for the acquittal.

The panel, also comprising Federal Court judges Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim unanimously allowed the trio’s appeal to set aside their conviction and death sentence.

In his decision, Md Raus also said the court agreed with the first decision of the High Court which ruled that a prima facie case had not been established against the three of them.

Manimaran, Saravanan and Perumal were initially acquitted and discharged by the High Court in Ipoh on Nov 29, 2010, without calling for their defence after the court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

On appeal by the prosecution, the Court of Appeal in April 2013 sent the case back to the High Court and ordered the three to enter their defence.

The trio were then convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court on July 15, 2013. They lost their appeal in the Court of Appeal which upheld their conviction and death sentence.

They were charged with murdering Sindambaram, 68, between 11.30pm on Jan 11, 2009, and 2.10am the following day at his house in Jalan Wayang, Buntong, Ipoh.

The deceased’s wife, T. Letchumy had earlier testified in the trial that she had seen her husband seated at a coffee table in the living room surrounded by six masked men armed with parang.

There was a pool of blood on the floor where Sindambaram was seated, she said.

Letchumy said after the men left, she sought help from neighbours to call an ambulance to send her husband to a hospital.

The next day, she was informed about 6.30am that Sindambaram had died.

Counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik represented Manimaran while lawyer Afifuddin Ahmad Hafifi appeared for Saravanan. T. Vijayandran was counsel for Perumal.

Deputy Public Prosecutor K. Mangai appeared for the prosecution.

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