JB teen cycling tragedy: Driver expected to be charged

Chuah Bee Kim

JOHOR BARU: The 22-year-old driver, who killed a group of eight teenage cyclists in a horrific car accident here, last month, is expected to be charged in court either on Sunday or Monday.

A source revealed that the female driver, who had been previously released on police bail, was expected to be produced at the Johor Baru magistrate’s court and would probably be charged with reckless driving leading to death.

Johor police chief Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd refused to confirm whether the woman driver would be charged soon.

“So far, there has been no directive from the deputy public prosecutor’s (DPP) office. The investigation papers are still in the hands of the DPP,” Najmuddin said when contacted.

However, people with knowledge of the upcoming court case said there was possibility that the woman would be charged in the next two days as the deputy public prosecutor’s office was finalising the case.

“If she is charged, it could likely be under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for reckless driving leading to death.

“If convicted, the woman could face a jail term of up to 10 years and a maximum RM20,000 fine,” said the source.

The source also defended the police investigation, which had taken more than a month.

It was learnt there were many aspects to be considered by the police and other agencies involved in the investigations, and that it was a complicated case due to several factors.

In the Feb 18 incident, eight teenagers aged between 13 and 17 were killed and another eight were seriously injured when a Nissan Almera driven by the woman ploughed into the group of 30 to 40 cyclists at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, Johor Baru at about 3am.

The driver was detained but released a day after the incident on police bail.

On Thursday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid said investigators took their time to ensure they have a solid case before taking further action.

Noor Rashid reportedly said that the time was used to collect all evidence and to ensure that no stones were left unturned as it was a big case, and explained that the police cannot conduct such an investigation in a perfunctory manner.

Noor Rashid said among the agencies involved in the investigation were the Chemistry Department, Puspakom, and the Road Transport Department.

Netizens had complained about the month-long wait for the outcome of the investigation, and compared the time Malaysian police took to take action against the driver with the time taken by Singaporean authorities to take action in a recent fatal accident case in the republic.

There was a public outcry from some quarters when it took the Singapore authorities less than a week to have the perpetrator charged.

At one juncture, netizens also speculated that the driver may be from an influential family which led to the delay of closure for the victims, who were mostly from middle- to low-income families. However, police have denied the allegation.