SHAH ALAM: N. Tharmendran, the former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) sergeant charged in connection with the jet engine theft case in April 2008, has opted not to stay in Sungai Buloh Prison while awaiting trial.
The 42-year-old told The Malay Mail this morning he had walked out of the prison “recently”. He, however, declined to say where he was staying at the moment.
His lawyer N. Surendran said Tharmendran had decided to opt out of prison as his parents were old and he was worried of their health.
Surendran said his client was staying at an undisclosed location as it was feared that the air force might arrest him.
“We did not receive any guarantee from anyone but we hope with all the publicity, they will not dare do anything,” he added.
On July 19, Tharmendren had informed the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court he would rather return to Sungai Buloh Prison, citing fears for his safety, after he failed to obtain an interim protection order from the court.
This turnabout came just two weeks after he succeeded in posting bail, which had been reduced from RM150,000 to RM50,000.
Meanwhile, earlier, the High Court here fixed Oct 29 for the decision whether to allow Tharmendran’s application to cross examine two Army officers who had allegedly used violent means on him to extract his confession in the jet engine theft case.
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Asmabi Mohamed fixed the date following submissions from the application’s counsel Latheefa Koya and the respondent Deputy Public Prosecutor Ishak Yusof.
Asmabi said she would hear Tharmendran’s application to have his charge of abetting the theft of two RMAF jet engines be struck out.
Latheefa told the court that it was important they cross examine Major Ismail Omar and Major Norazam Amin as they had only issued bare denial in their affidavits in response to the application.
According to Latheefa, cross examining the two officers was important for their application to strike out the abetting charge.
Latheefa said Tharmendran and a witness, Intan Yusof, had in their affidavits, claimed the two majors had acted violently against another air force personnel when Intan met Tharmendran who was in detention at the Sungai Besi Air Base in Kuala Lumpur in July last year.
Ishak, who appeared together DPP Syed Faisal Syed Hamid, urged the court to dismiss the application as “by affirming it, it will open the floodgates to similar action in other criminal cases”.
He described the application as “a fishing expedition” to extract evidence from potential witnesses.
The motion to strike out the charge was filed on July 16, with Tharmendran claiming he would not be able receive a fair trial due to alleged “abuse of the criminal justice system by authorities”.
Tharmendran was charged and claimed trial on Jan 6 at the PJ Sessions Court to abetting Airman Mohamad Shukri with stealing two F5 jet engines at the Material Processing Shed MATRA 1, RMAF base, Sungai Besi on April 30, 2008.
Another accused, businessman K. Rajandran Prasad, 37, was also charged on Jan 6 with intentionally disposing the two jet engines in April 2008.
On Aug 19, Tharmendran and Prasad were slapped with additional charges of money laundering.
harmendran was charged with three counts of money-laundering involving RM62,000 while Prasad was charged with five counts of money laundering involving RM437,319.50.
Both claimed trial to the charges.