A stolen laptop and the slow, painful death of a naval cadet

Zulfarhan in full ceremonial uniform at his campus in Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM). — Picture courtesy of Zulkarnain Idros
Zulfarhan in full ceremonial uniform at his campus in Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM). — Picture courtesy of Zulkarnain Idros

PETALING JAYA, June 4 — The duty officer at the Datuk Abu Bakar Baginda community police station in Sepang received a call from a man who identified himself only as Husin from the D’Centrum Apartment’s security office in Bandar Baru Bangi on Thursday, at 9.10pm.

He informed them that a man, later identified to be Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, had passed away with burn marks all over his body at a rented apartment unit in Block B of D’Centrum Apartments.

Early investigations revealed the actual assault and torture took place at the Army Trainee dormitory at the National Defence University of Malaysia in Sungai Besi.

Zulfarhan was tortured by 20-30 fellow cadet officers.

He was taken to an apartment unit rented by friends at D’Centrum.

The cause of the assault was over allegations of laptop theft. Zulfarhan was held in a dormitory at the Jebat building of the university’s campus.

The horrific incident took place on May 20, from 3am until 11am the next day.

More sadistic action was meted on Zulfarhan by the group of cadet officers which included the use of a steam iron to inflict grievous bodily harm on the victim in their attempt to force a confession of the theft.

In the course of police investigations at the dormitory, police seized a steam iron and a cloth belt which was used to torture Zulfarhan.

At the apartment, police seized a duvet, bed sheet, pillow case, plastic bags as well as a batik shirt believed to be Zulfarhan’s.

Police were also led to the Lanai Budget Hotel in Bangi, where crime scene investigators retrieved body hair, parts of a mattress with suspected blood stains and a hotel receipt.

Soon after Zulfarhan’s death was confirmed by a doctor, a Criminal Investigation Department team from the Sepang police headquarters detained the two men, who took Zulfarhan to the hospital, within hospital grounds.

Four others were summoned to the police station and detained for investigations.

Simultaneously, a team led by Deputy Superintendent Mohd Fairus detained 30 cadet officers at the university near Perdana Camp in Sungai Besi.

On Friday morning, an autopsy was performed at Serdang Hospital by pathologist Dr Salmah Idris.

The almost four hours post-mortem revealed:

* Swelling on the left eyelid and scratch marks on the left eyebrow.

* Scalding over the front of the body, right and left arms, private parts, the front of both legs and the back of the body.

The impression left on the skin was consistent with that of the shape of a steam iron.

Burns covered almost 80 per cent of the victim’s body.

The pathologist also found swelling on the skin of the head and broken left ribs. Cause of death was said to be “80 per cent second and third-degree burns”.