KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here was satisfied that the 90 burn wounds inflicted on Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain by five of his fellow Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) students using a hot steam iron had caused his death, but ruled that it was not a premeditated murder.

Justice Datuk Azman Abdullah in his judgement said that after considering testimonies from Serdang Hospital forensics medical expert Dr Salmah Arshad, a prosecution witness, and Sungai Buloh Hospital forensics department chief Dr Rohayu Shahar Adnan, a defence witness, the court also found that Zulfarhan Osman's death was not a sudden death after being injured.

He said that after studying the defence case, the court found that the first to fifth accused were the ones who inflicted the 90 burn wounds on Zulfarhan Osman using the steam iron.

"The first, second, fourth and fifth accused admitted to pressing the iron once or twice (on the victim's body), while the third accused did not admit to doing so. Yet, the sixth accused and another prosecution witness testified that he saw the third accused pressing the iron," he said.

The judge said there was no other strong evidence showing that there were other individuals who pressed the iron on Zulfarhan Osman's body except the five who intentionally committed the offence.

He said Dr Salmah mentioned in her testimony that the autopsy revealed 90 burn marks all over the deceased's body, including both sides of the buttocks and his penis.

"She said there were first-, second-, and third-degree burns from the base of the neck to the victim's feet, including shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, ribcage, shoulder blades, thighs, calves and ankles," he said.

The six accused, Muhammad Akmal Zuhairi Azmal, Muhammad Azamuddin Mad Sofi, Muhammad Najib Mohd Razi, Muhammad Afif Najmudin Azahat, Mohamad Shobirin Sabri and Abdoul Hakeem Mohd Ali were sentenced to 18 years in jail after being found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the death of Zulfarhan Osman.

The court also sentenced the entire group - with the exception of Mohamad Shobirin - along with 12 of his fellow students to three years' jail after being found guilty of causing grievous hurt to the victim. All of the accused are currently 25 years old.

Justice Azman said both Dr Salmah and Dr Rohayu concurred that there were 90 burn marks all over the victim's body except for his face and the back of his hands.

"If the deceased were to wear a long sleeve shirt, the marks would be hidden. That was how meticulous they were.

"They (accused) also told the court that they loved the deceased. Maybe if they did not love him, they would press the steam iron on his face and probably there would be more than 90 burn marks on his body," he said.

The judge also said that Zulfarhan Osman might not have died if a doctor in a private clinic in Bangi had intervened when the deceased was receiving treatment at the clinic, as usually hospitals or clinics would call the police if they suspected a patient was abused as it was a medical-legal issue.

"The doctor should not have turned a blind eye and believed the deceased was involved in an explosion during training till he sustained burns on his entire body, including his penis and testis, but did not have a single mark on his face," the judge said.

He pointed out that if the deceased had not sustained serious injuries, he would not have been brought to the clinic twice, with each treatment costing a sum of RM500.

Justice Azman said the accused could have taken the victim to a government hospital or UPNM clinic for free treatment but did not do so as they were afraid that the secret about them hurting Zulfarhan Osman would come to light.

The judge said Zulfarhan Osman's ordeal began when the laptop belonging to the first accused Muhammad Akmal Zuhairi Azmal was lost and the father of the 17th accused, Noriznan Izzairi Noor Azhar called and confirmed that three names given to him, including the deceased, had stolen the laptop.

"On May 21 and 22, 2017, Zulfarhan Osman was taken to room 03-05, Jebat dormitory block, and at 2.30 am, the accused began to torture him with the intention to extract a confession from him.

"On May 22, 2017, from 4.45 am till near dawn, the victim was tortured with a steam iron by Muhammad Akmal, Muhammad Azamuddin, Muhammad Najib, Muhammad Afif, Mohamad Shobirin on the orders of Muhammad Hasif when the victim did not confess to stealing the laptop," the judge said.