Defence suggests husband killed wife

2010-03-15 00:00

WHILE the prosecution has argued that there is overwhelming evidence that Mohamed Shuaib Sathar murdered his second cousin, Safia Asmal (19), in 2005, the defence has suggested another possibility — that the victim’s husband could have killed her.

This suggestion was made by defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC in legal argument before Judge Atkins Moleko and assessors on Friday.

It was rejected by state advocate Dorian Paver, who said Mohammed Asmal was ruled out as a suspect by the police, and there is no evidence to support the allegation.

Scheltema submitted that “considerable doubt” existed as to whether Sathar is the person who killed Asmal, and said a “reasonable possibility” exists that her husband might have killed her during an argument stemming from jealousy.

Scheltema said there were indications of “serious problems” between Asmal and her husband shortly before her death, and highlighted the evidence of specialist forensic pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal that Asmal had a black eye, which in his opinion was inflicted a “significant period” before another injury to her forehead.

According to Sathar’s mother, Sarah, her son “loved [Asmal] more than he loved his own sister and they were always confiding in each other and they spent a lot of time together”.

“It is respectfully submitted that this type of relationship could easily have led to extreme jealousy on the part of the deceased’s husband,” submitted Scheltema.

Paver replied that the only evidence of marital tension between the couple arose from the testimony of Sathar’s parents, Asgur and Sarah Sathar, whom, he earlier submitted, had made it clear that “come hell or high water they would say anything in support of their son, even if it meant committing perjury”. Weighed against that, the court heard the direct evidence of Mohammed Asmal, who even had a letter to back up his evidence of his good relationship with his late wife, in which she expressed her “love and gratitude” to him, he said.

He said Perumal could not be certain when the “blue eye” was inflicted and said it could have been sustained within an hour of the other injuries. It was impossible to say how long the assault on Asmal would have lasted.

She suffered a severe head injury resulting in a skull fracture, multiple stab wounds to the back, cut vessels to the neck and a bruised right eye, and bled to death.

Paver said Sathar pointed out places to the police that indicated his knowledge of the attack and made statements that amounted to a confession.

Sathar’s description of the attack was borne out by the medical evidence that he struck Asmal with a dumbbell, stabbed her and cut her throat. The fact that there was no forced entry to the house confirmed his statement that she had opened the door for him.

The knife used, which had traces of Asmal’s blood on it, had been kept where he had indicated it was kept, in the kitchen. Furthermore, Sathar confirmed to a magistrate that he had “committed a murder”.

Sathar’s shoes — which have a distinctive pattern beneath the sole — matched a shoe print in blood in the passage of the victim’s home and traces of her blood were found on one of the shoes.

Paver said, on the day after the murder, that Sathar had scratch marks, fresh lacerations on his right arm and face and a scratch on the back of his neck, which were consistent with “defensive wounds” sustained in a struggle.

Judgment is expected in the case on March 23.

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