Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A confession alone is not admissible in court and it does not mean that the person who confessed has committed a crime, said a criminologist.
Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy, from the School of Sciences in Universiti Sains Malaysia, said that the law was amended a few years ago so that confessions did not carry weight in court anymore.
“We can’t make assumptions. A confession alone does not mean the person is guilty.
The person could be mentally ill or covering up for someone,” he said.
He was commenting on the 23-year-old man who was remanded on Wednesday for the murder of 15-year-old Ng Yuk Tim.
The man supposedly confessed killing Ng to Selangor Community Policing founder Kuan Chee Hong.
Kuan said the man admitted that he tried to rape Ng in his house and hit her with a dumbbell when she resisted.
Section 113 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) states a confession or similar statements may be admissible as evidence if made to a police officer ranked Inspector or higher unless certain conditions can be proven.
“The benchmark for a burden of proof to convict someone has increased significantly to a certain extent,” explained Sundramoorthy.
He explained that such statements would only be admissible if they were backed up by physical evidence such as DNA or blood and collaborating statements from witnesses if there were any.
Sundramoorthy said the suspect was only a person of interest at this point of time.
“You can’t determine his guilt straightaway. There is much more to be learnt about the events that took place,” he said.
He added that the police should be given time and space to conduct their investigations.
Criminal defence lawyer Farhan Read said that confessions made to almost anybody when someone is under arrest is inadmissible.
It was also inadmissible if that someone was not under arrest but they were still able to impose their authority such as a parent to a child.
He however said that if someone was casually talking over coffee to a friend who happened to be a Deputy Public Prosecutor a confession of a murder then might be admissible.
“A confession has to be reliable in order to be admissible. It has to be given voluntarily and it must not be as a result of oppression or interrogation,” he said.