SINGAPORE — A man on trial for the murder of his girlfriend had tied a towel around the victim’s neck when she told him that she would send him a video of herself with another man.
Ahmed Salim, a Bangladeshi working as a painter, detailed a series of jibes that Indonesian domestic helper Nurhidayati Wartono Surata had thrown at him on 30 December 2018, when the two met for the last time at Golden Dragon Hotel in Geylang.
There, after confronting Nurhidayati about her relationship with another man, Ahmed had tightened his towel on her neck until she stopped moving.
“That time the towel was there... I don’t remember whether towel was tied up or not but she was talking saying all those things I was getting angrier and angrier at that time, I just tied the towel around her neck, I just could not control my anger anymore.
“I don’t really remember how much strength I put when I was tying the towel around her neck but she stopped moving very soon,” Ahmed told the High Court on Tuesday (22 September).
Ahmed is accused of murdering Nurhidayati with the intention of causing her death. While he does not deny killing Nurhidayati, Ahmed will be claiming the defence of diminished responsibility and grave or sudden provocation.
According to Ahmed, he came to Singapore in 2010. Court documents state that he began dating Nurhidayati in May 2012 after a chance encounter along the street. The pair’s relationship, which was sexual, lasted until Nurhidayati’s death but was fraught with problems.
While Ahmed said the two were “promised to each other”, Nurhidayati spurned Ahmed towards the end.
“Two times I put a ring on her finger and I promised her that I would marry her. We promised each other that we would be faithful to each other, I would not see any other woman, I have not done that and she also promised me that she will not have any other relationship,” said Ahmed through a Bengali interpreter.
According to Ahmed, the two went to a mosque for the event, which was witnessed by his friends.
“I treated her as my wife, all the clothes she was wearing and the things in her room were given to her by me bought with my money, whatever a person gave to his wife I did the same.”
However, Nurhidayati did not keep to her promise, according to Ahmed.
In May or June 2018, Nurhidayati began seeing another man, known as Shamin Shamizur Rahman. Ahmed suspected Nurhidayati’s infidelity when she became uncontactable one Sunday. He later asked his mother and friend in Bangladesh to help him look for a wife. A wife was found for him and his marriage was arranged for February 2019 in his home country.
Despite his impending marriage, Ahmed reconciled with Nurhidayati and continued dating her. However, Nurhidayati began speaking to another man, Hanifa Mohammad Abu, between October and early November 2018.
“I have been angry at her for a long time, she used to cheat many times she did me many times but I used to go to her again and again because I loved her,” Ahmed said.
Things came to a head on 30 December 2018 when Ahmed confronted his girlfriend at a room at Golden Dragon Hotel about Hanifa, whom he referred to as “Hanif” in his testimony.
“I first asked her what is my problem, why do you have a new boyfriend, what is wrong with me. She said that people don’t really know why people do certain things… She said that she was a woman and why a woman changes her mind, she can’t say that,” Ahmed testified.
“Then she said do not disturb me…(she said) ‘You go your way I go my way, do not disturb me.’ So then I understood that I could not change her mind with nice words then I wanted to scare her so that’s why I put the towel around her neck.”
However Nurhidayati simply replied, “ If you want to kill me, kill me. With you this is my last meet, I don’t want to see you again and I will not leave Hanif,” according to Ahmed.
Ahmed grew angry and sought to break Nurhidayati’s relationship with Hanif. He attempted to send a message to Hanif but was thwarted by Nurhidayati, who hugged him. During the scuffle, Ahmed pushed the woman to the floor, provoking a response from her.
“She said ‘why don’t you go to Bangladesh and sleep with you mother, your mother and me are the same thing, you go and sleep with your mother’,” recalled Ahmed, who then slapped Nurhidayati.
He then placed the towel on Nurhidayati’s mouth in an attempt to stop her from speaking. He tried to check Nurhidayati’s phone, which provoked her further.
After a short exchange about Hanifa, Nurhidayati allegedly said, “Yes I met Hanif and Hanif is not like you, he is not stupid like you.
“She said yes she has been to a hotel with Hanif and (she) had sex with him and (she) really enjoyed having sex with him and he is much better than (me) in bed.”
Said Ahmed, “Then I said let me check your phone, she said ‘no need next time I go out with Hanif I will do a video and I will send you the video’.”
Unable to control his anger, Ahmed tied the towel around her neck for less than a minute until Nurhidayati stopped moving. He thought that Nurhidayati had died by then.
After hearing some sound from Nurhidayati’s throat, Ahmed placed the towel against her mouth to stop the sound. When the sound continued, Ahmed took a fabric rope from his pocket and tied it around the woman’s neck until the sound stopped.
When asked by his lawyer, Chooi Jing Yen, about the rope being in his pocket that day, Ahmed said that it had been in his pocket for a long time.
“If I want to tell you how that rope came inside my trouser pocket, I have to go back long time ... I used to have that rope in my pocket for always.”
The trial continues on Tuesday afternoon, with Chooi expected to ask his client about the origin of the rope, which was of grey fabric and measuring 0.5 cm in thickness and approximately 100 cm in length.
If convicted of murder, Ahmed faces the death sentence.
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