Esscom case: Prosecution drops case, court frees all accused

TAWAU, Jan 26: In a shocking turn of events, the High Court freed Esscom’s former chief of intelligence staff SAC Datuk Mat Zaki Md Zain, and seven others of murder and conspiracy charges in the murder trial involving e-hailing driver, Nurman Bakaratu, after his ex-wife confessed to killing him.

Deputy public prosecutor Khairul Azreem Mamat informed the court that they were dropping the case in accordance with Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code following their key witness Nurimah Juli’s testimony that she killed Nurman. 

Nurimah Juli confessed to killing her ex-husband in the white Myvi car they were traveling in when it stopped at a palm oil plantation on Jan 13, 2023, during her testimony. 

“In view of the decision of the prosecution, I order that all eight accused persons be discharged and acquitted. All the remaining trial dates are hereby vacated,” said Judge Datuk Duncan Sikodol 

The accused were Mat Zaki, 59, six police personnel, Rosdi Rastam, 45, Denis Anit, 45, Fabian Rungam, 44, Khairul Azman Bakar, 47, Mohd Azlan Sakaran, 40, John Kennedy Sanggah, 44, and a civilian,  Vivien Fabian, 34.

Following the testimony of the 23rd prosecution witness, Rosdi’s lawyer Datuk Ansari Abdullah, applied for his client to be released and acquitted from the charges.

“My client has been detained for almost a year in prison and a total of 23 prosecution witnesses have testified since Jan 2,” he submitted. 

Mat Zaki, John, Vivian, Khairul Azman, and Mohd Azlan’s lawyer, Datuk Ram Singh, requested a full release for his five clients.

Similarly, Dennis and Fabian’s lawyers, Luke Ressa Balang and Mohamad Zairi Zainal Abidin, respectively, also sought the court’s release for their clients.

Six policemen and a civilian were accused of allegedly killing Nurman in a palm oil plantation near Jalan Anjur Juara, off Jalan Apas Batu 5 here between 7.30 and 11.30 pm on Jan 13, last year.

On Jan 30 last year, Nurimah, 33, was charged with the murder of Nurman at the Magistrate’s Court here. 

However, on Feb 8, 2023, the same court released her from the murder charge and she became the prosecution’s witness. 

Mat Zaki, Rosdi, Denis, Fabian, Khairul Azman, Mohd Azlan, and Vivien were brought before the Magistrate’s Court here on the same day.

John Kennedy was initially a prosecution witness but on April 11, 2023, he also faced a murder charge alongside the six other men at the Magistrate’s Court. 

After the court freed the men, their family members in the public gallery rushed over to hug them in tears. 

Outside the courtroom, other members of the accused’s family also cried after hearing the decision in their favour. 

Meanwhile, Mat Zaki, who was met by Bernama, considered today’s decision a proof of God’s just power.

“I am grateful to my family, ESSCOM commander Victor Sanjos for our welfare, and everyone who supported us during our time in prison. Today, God has shown His mercy. The witness confessed even before the lawyer cross-examined.

“Exactly one year in prison and in the final year of my retirement which is in 14 days, the truth is revealed… today it is exactly one year after (my) arrest on Jan 25 last year. And released on the same date this year,” he said.