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Monday, July 26, 2021

Wife to donate gold ‘thaali’ as husband is spared the gallows

 

The thaali is a necklace, often made of gold, that is tied around a Hindu woman’s neck by her husband to solemnise their marriage.

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian wife of a convicted drug offender in Singapore will donate her gold wedding necklace, or “thaali” to honour a prayer she made when her husband was convicted with the death sentence in 2018.

After a 35-day retrial, a Singapore court has reversed the death sentence passed at an earlier trial on her husband, 50-year-old cargo trailer driver S.K. Murugan Subrawmaniam.

Murugan’s wife S. Veluthai, a cleaner from Ulu Tiram, Johor, had pledged in prayer to donate the gold necklace she had worn for more than 25 years to a Hindu temple if he was spared capital punishment.

Her prayers were answered recently when Justice Chan Seng Onn ruled that seven statements recorded from her husband were inadmissible as evidence.

Chan said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the statements he gave were voluntary in nature.

Defence lawyers had previously argued Murugan was induced when his statements were given.

Murugan then pleaded guilty to a non-capital offence, and was sentenced last week to jail for 12 years’ beginning from his arrest.

As he has been in jail since 2015, he is expected to be out in about 18 months, subject to remission for good conduct.

The driver was first convicted and sentenced to death by Singapore’s High Court in 2018 for trafficking in about 66.27g of heroin. Murugan appealed against the judgement in March 2019.

The Court of Appeal then ordered a retrial as Murugan had previously chosen to remain silent and changed his mind to submit a defence after all the evidence was taken at the end of the High Court trial.

Speaking to the Straits Times, his wife said they intended to get another “thaali” as a sign of renewal of their vows for his “new lease of life”.

“We will say our prayers together after his release,” she said.

The couple has five children aged between 10 and 26, and three grandchildren. The family has not been able to return to Johor due to international Covid-19 travel restrictions. - FMT

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