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Monday, April 2, 2012

REAL LIFE STORIES: The cop who strangled his girlfriend

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:52 AM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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former police inspector Saderi Abdul Samat

IMPASSIVE: Twenty-eight years ago, former police inspector Saderi Abdul Samat was sent to the gallows for the murder of his girlfriend. The police officer who recorded his cautioned statement tells Shanti Gunaratnam Saderi was one of the calmest suspects he had ever interviewed

HE was cool, calm and unruffled. Looking at him, one would never have thought that he had murdered his girlfriend just a few days earlier.

But one thing former Federal Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Fauzi Shaari learnt following his interview with the late inspector Saderi Abdul Samat 32 years ago, was to "never judge a book by its cover".

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"When he was bought in to have his cautioned statement recorded, he was cool and confident.

"At that point, I thought he would confess to murdering factory worker Salbiah Yeop Abdul Rahman, who was his lover and reportedly, pregnant at the time of her death.

"But he did not confess. I, therefore, proceeded with the cautioned statement. Saderi told me he had found Salbiah hanging in the bathroom of the officers' mess where he lived. I thought to myself, maybe, he is not guilty of the crime."

It took three hours to record the nine-page statement at the Penang police headquarters where Fauzi was then the deputy head of the anti-secret society branch.

Fauzi had worked alongside Saderi on several occasions.

"Inspector Saderi was a good and diligent worker who completed his tasks on time.

"He was a quiet person who went about his work. I never knew of his involvement with Salbiah until one of her friends told us about it."

It was then that Saderi became a suspect and the police started investigating him.

He was found guilty of murdering Salbiah at the police officers' mess in Scotland Road between the evening of Nov 14, 1980 and 5am the following day.

Saderi was sentenced to death on July 5, 1982, and his appeal to the Federal Court was turned down on Jan 25, 1983. He then appealed for clemency from the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Penang but this was rejected on Aug 30, 1983.

He was hanged on Oct 18, 1984.

In the cautioned statement, Saderi said he had gone back to the officers' mess that day and took a short rest. He then went to the bathroom and that was when he found Salbiah.

As his fiancee Rubiah Tijan was on her way, he cut the rope and brought Salbiah's body down.

He said he placed Salbiah's body in his friend's car and drove to places like Gertak Sanggul, Teluk Bahang, Mount Erskine, Tanjung Tokong and also Tanjung Bungah.

Saderi finally dumped the body in a ravine near Tanjung Bungah where Salbiah's decomposed body was later found by some joggers.

While every part of her body was badly decomposed, her right hand was not and police managed to lift her fingerprints which led to her identification.

"In the statement, Saderi said he was annoyed with Salbiah's suicide and threw the rope as far as he could into the bushes at Tanjung Bungah.

"The words he used in the statement was 'saya lempar tali itu sekuat-kuat hati'."

The rope was never found despite a three-day search for it.

Saderi said he dumped the remaining length of rope in the bathroom into a rubbish bin at the mess, but that was never found, too.

"Saderi was found guilty based on circumstantial evidence. There were no witnesses to the murder.

"The rope which was purportedly used by Salbiah in the hanging was never found even after three attempts by the police.

Saderi said he had to dispose of the body as he didn't want to upset his fiancee. He didn't want her to find out about his affair with Salbiah.

"Saderi, in his cautioned statement, said that a few days before Salbiah's alleged suicide, they had an argument but patched things up.

"The last time he said he saw Salbiah alive was on the day of the argument. She had apparently taken the bus home after waving goodbye to him.

"Saderi did admit in his statement, however, that he was Salbiah's lover and that she used to visit him at the mess."

Deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (now Datuk Seri and a private practitioner), was the prosecutor in the case. K. Kumaraendran (now Datuk) was the defence counsel.

"Saderi gave his statement voluntarily and luckily for us, his lawyer never disputed the cautioned statement.

"I had thought that was unusual because most defence counsel would try to get the cautioned statement thrown out to strengthen their case."

"I had thought that it would be difficult to take the cautioned statement from Saderi because he was a fellow police officer. But thank God, his calmness and confidence made things easier.

"After the statement was taken, I did not see Saderi till the trial, where I was a prosecution witness.

"Saderi and I used to smile at each other in court but we hardly spoke.

"I had thought Saderi would be acquitted because there were no witnesses to the murder.

"But Shafee, in his submissions, managed to convince the jury that Saderi was indeed the murderer because the beam which Salbiah was found hanging from could not hold her weight.

"Further, the rope that was purportedly used in the hanging was never found, and the pathologist report stated that Salbiah died of strangulation and not hanging."

Fauzi said Saderi maintained his innocence until the end.

"He never admitted to killing Salbiah, and kept to what he said in his cautioned statement. In his mind, it was suicide and not murder."


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