Parents on trial for son's murder: Couple will not testify
They decline to make their defence as part of 'an overall strategic decision'
Despite being warned that it might be adverse for them, a couple have opted not to testify in their trial for the murder of their five-year-old son.
Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman and his wife, Azlin Arujunah, both 27, are accused of scalding their son to death and other abusive acts.
Yesterday, Ridzuan's lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, told a packed courtroom that the couple's decision not to testify was "an overall strategic decision".
High Court Judge Valerie Thean had told the accused they could give their defence after noting the prosecution had made their case against them.
She said they would be liable to be cross- examined if they testified, and if they did not, the court could draw adverse inference against them in deciding on whether they were guilty.
In response, Azlin said in English: "I do not wish to testify, Your Honour".
Ridzuan said through a Malay interpreter that he wanted to remain silent.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien highlighted a past case where a woman, Anita Damu, appealed against her sentence for maid abuse.
She claimed she had heard "voices" that led her to commit the offences.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said her failure to testify during her trial had undermined the relevance and reliability of the psychiatric evidence she was relying on, DPP Tan said .
Referring to the murder accused, she added: "They must know the consequences of remaining silent. This is something that the court must be satisfied on."
Azlin's psychiatrist, Dr Jacob Rajesh, had earlier said she was suffering from adjustment disorder with depressed mood, while Ridzuan's psychiatrist, Dr Ken Ung, diagnosed him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intermittent explosive disorder and hypnotic use disorder.
Mr Thuraisingam and Azlin's lawyer, Mr Thangavelu, protested against the prosecution raising the Anita Damu case, calling it irrelevant and inappropriate.
They argued their clients have lawyers and are well aware of the consequences should they choose not to testify.
"There are reasons why people take the stand or not. It is an overall strategic decision," said Mr Thuraisingam.
The accused allegedly splashed near-boiling water on their son on at least four occasions days before he died on Oct 23, 2016, the court heard earlier.
They also allegedly locked him in a cage meant for their pet cat, pinched him with a pair of pliers, and hit him with objects such as a broom.
Dr Rajesh yesterday testified that Azlin had gone through multiple stressors in a short span, such as the deaths of her grandmother in March 2016 and her mother in June. She also found out about Ridzuan's extramarital affair in April.
To cope, she would take drugs, often sharing methamphetamine with Ridzuan.
Due to her condition, she would have been easily provoked. She also claimed the boy was naughty and bore a strong resemblance to Ridzuan.
As she was unable to react to her husband's abuse due to her small size, she took her anger out on the child, Dr Rajesh added.