SINGAPORE, June 27 — One-and-a-half years after he was charged with the murder of 19-year-old Felicia Teo Wei Ling who had gone missing in 2007, prosecutors today withdrew the capital charge against Ahmad Danial Mohamed Rafa’ee.
Today, Ahmad was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for the murder charge.
This means that the 37-year-old, who last worked as a creative manager at gaming firm Razer, can still be prosecuted for the alleged offence in the future should new evidence emerge, for instance. The charge will be revived if that happens.
Ahmad has been remanded since his arrest in mid-December 2020 as murder is a non-bailable offence in Singapore.
He was offered bail of S$20,000 (RM63,566) today.
The Singaporean now faces six fresh charges of a less serious nature over Teo’s death, mostly under the 1985 revised edition of the Penal Code. He is accused of committing all these offences in common intention with Mr Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, 34.
These charges are:
• Two counts of fabricating false evidence
- By making calls to Teo’s phone, leaving her voicemails, and messaging her on social media to create a false impression that they believed she was still alive when they knew she was already dead
- By placing Teo’s phone in the vicinity of East Coast Park to support lies given to the police that she had gone there
• One count of dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by a deceased person at the time of their death by taking Teo’s mobile phone, MacBook Pro, and Olympus DSLR camera with two lens
• One count of omitting to give information about Teo’s death on June 30, 2007 when he was legally bound to report a sudden or unnatural death to the police
• One count of giving false information to two police officers that they did not know what happened to Teo after she left a party, intending for the police not to arrest them
• One count of disposing of Teo’s corpse in the vicinity of Punggol Track 24, under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act Both men were earlier accused of murdering the teenager in a Housing and Development Board flat after a party at Block 19 Marine Terrace between 1.39am and 7.20am on June 30, 2007.
Ragil remains at large and is believed to be overseas. His LinkedIn profile last listed him as being based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The two men are believed to have been the last to see Teo at the flat that night. The three are said to be friends and had all attended the Lasalle College of the Arts, based on their social media profiles.
No full acquittal
Today, District Judge Eugene Teo rejected arguments by Ahmad’s defence lawyer Shashi Nathan that he should be given a full acquittal on the murder charge.
Instead, the judge accepted the prosecution’s application for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
In written submissions to the court, the prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) Yang Ziliang and R Arvindren, said this was because Ragil remains at large.
The police only began trying to trace him when Ahmad was arrested in December 2020 and “new facts came to light” during investigations, said the DPPs who also argued that Ahmad has not been prejudiced and there was “no excessive delay” in the case.
In a brief impassioned speech, Nathan told the court that he was surprised his client had been charged with murder in the first place.
Teo’s body has not been found either, though the authorities have found a fragment of a skull around where Ahmad said they had disposed of her corpse.
Nathan noted that the prosecution had previously said they wanted to send the fragment to the United States for mitochondrial testing. However, the lawyer added that he has not received any updates on that even after writing to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The lawyer also said Ahmad’s family has been “devastated” and his wife had to move out of their flat “because people were bothering them”.
Nathan argued: “If Ragil is so important that he is needed for (the authorities) to continue the murder charge, they should never have charged him and kept him on remand for 1.5 years... Who is going to pay him for the 1.5 years he sat in prison, waiting for the gallows because that was the charge he was facing?
“I have made formal complaints to the police who treated his wife with disdain and impunity. (The police’s head of investigations) called me to apologise for the investigation officer’s conduct in how they spoke to the wife,” the defence counsel said.
Nathan added that today’s hearing was originally fixed for Friday morning as well, but the investigation officer did not serve the six new charges on Ahmad in time.
“Will this murder charge hang over my client indefinitely? They are not just asking for a pound of flesh. They want you to lay your head on a wooden board and wait for the guillotine to fall,” the lawyer told the court in his arguments for a full acquittal.
In response, DPP Yang said Ahmad had lied to the police in 2007 and created the current “state of affairs”. The prosecutor added that time is needed to determine who the skull belongs to, and that they have sent a request to the Indonesian authorities over Ragil.
In making his decision, District Judge Teo — referring to Nathan’s guillotine analogy — said that such “emotive language can portray the matter inaccurately”.
“He continues to have counsel on record, and (if) the guillotine is activated, due process must always prevail.
“I fully get the grief which has been undertaken by your client during this period of remand... (but) it appears remand hasn’t fully been for a futile reason. The six charges the prosecution is now presenting is evidence of that,” the judge added.
As for whether a full acquittal was warranted, District Judge Teo said this was not the appropriate time to decide on that.
“I have some sympathies and I believe some arguments have also been made that some finality should be accorded in this kind of cases. I suppose at some point in time, there should ideally be a review of this... Based on what we have now, I agree there is no basis for granting an outright discharge amounting to an acquittal,” the judge told the court.
If convicted of depositing a corpse, Ahmad could be jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$2,000, or both.
Those convicted of misappropriating a deceased person’s property can be jailed for up to three years and fined.
Those who fabricate false evidence to be used during a judicial proceeding can be jailed for up to seven years or fined.
Those who give false information to a public servant can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$1,000, or punished with both. The same punishment applies to those who fail to give notice or information to a public servant when legally bound to.
A murder charge carries either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Ahmad was arrested on Dec 15, 2020 in relation to Teo’s disappearance after new leads surfaced when the cold case was referred to the police’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for a fresh review.
The teenager’s disappearance had in 2007 sparked a frenzied islandwide search comprising almost 200 family and friends who distributed and posted thousands of fliers, refusing to believe that she had run away.
TODAY reported in July 2007 that she had gone to the Marine Terrace flat after a party at the Lasalle College of the Arts, where she was studying for a diploma in fine art.
She had gotten to know Mr Ragil first, who was about the same age as her. He later introduced her to Ahmad, who was a few years older.
Ahmad and Mr Ragil claimed that she had left “in a huff” when they complained about the “jarring ringtone” of her mobile phone.
The police previously said that when they interviewed the two men at the time, the pair maintained that Teo left the 10th-floor unit in the wee hours of June 30, 2007 of her own accord.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage retrieved from the town council showed her going up the lift with the two men to the flat, but the camera did not capture her departure.
The police said that they searched the flat and reviewed CCTV footage near it, but nothing incriminating was found.
Her disappearance was classified as a missing-person case because they did not find any facts that linked the two men to it.
No new leads surfaced until the case was referred to the CID in 2020 for a fresh review, given that it had been unsolved for an extended period.
CID uncovered new leads while tracing the items believed to be in Teo’s possession when she was reported missing. Its officers managed to link one of the items to Ahmad and arrested him. — TODAY