Police sergeant charged with two counts of murder, faces death penalty

[UPDATED Monday morning, 1025am: Murder suspect charged]
 
Kovan double murder suspect Iskandar Bin Rahmat was charged with two counts of murder in a swift court appearance on Monday morning.

The 34-year-old staff sergeant, who has been with the police force for 14 years, was charged with the murder of Tan Boon Sin, 66, at his home on Hillside Drive. He was also charged with the murder of Tan's eldest son Chee Heong, 42. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

When the charges were read out, Iskandar -- who is married but separated with no children -- appeared to be looking for someone in court room. About 20 people in the court room, believed to be family relatives, also left the court after the charges were read.

A lady believed to be a close friend was tearing when Iskandar bin Rahmat was pulled away by police.

A slim-looking Malay lady dressed in black, who appeared to be in tears, waved to him as he was being pulled away by police. She had to be consoled by what appeared to be family relatives. It's not clear what her relationship to the suspect was but a family friend told Yahoo! Singapore that "that's not his wife".

A family friend said the lady is not Iskandar bin Rahmat's wife.

Relationship with victim unclear

Iskandar was arrested at 11.30pm on Friday night, within 56 hours of the alleged crime, by Malaysian police at a restaurant at Danga Bay, Johor.

He had left Singapore at 11pm on Wednesday, the day of the Kovan deaths, and crossed over to Malaysia on a scooter.
 
Police say that Iskandar had personal debt issues -- reportedly owing a bank about S$62,000 --  and was declared a bankrupt on Thursday -- a day after the murders.

He was also the police officer attending to elder victim Tan Boon Sin when he made a police report in November 2012 over the theft of a safety deposit box at  CISCO. The extent of the relationship between the two is not known although it has been reported both were in regular touch over the status of the theft case.

'Private family'

When Yahoo! Singapore spoke to Iskandar bin Rahmat's neighbours on Saturday at his Kim Keat Avenue flat, they painted a picture of a family that was very private. Iskandar is said to live there in the three-room unit with his aged parents and a woman whose relationship with the suspect is unclear.

Iskandar’s family always had “their doors and windows closed” and not much is known about them, said two neighbours, who did not want to be named.
 
They said the family moved in at the end of last year. A female neighbour several doors down said she had seen Iskandar a few times. He was always wearing black tops and did not smile at her.

After he was brought into the custody of Singapore police on Saturday, Iskandar was brought back to the alleged crime scene at 14J Hillside Drive.

A resident, Mr Sam Toh, 53, told Yahoo! Singapore, "I saw the suspect arriving with four police officers in a car. They went in to 14J for about 10 minutes.

"The suspect was wearing a black T-shirt and looked quite muscular."

The businessman added that the suspect had both his hands and feet cuffed.

Toh is relieved that an arrest has been made - his 10-year-old daughter hasn't been able to sleep on her own since the murders happened.

"The whole family have been sleeping in one room," he said.

Generally, the neighbourhood is "quite safe", Toh added, "but there were reports of break-ins recently".

Earlier on Saturday, the police announced that the suspect had been identified as Iskandar bin Rahmat.
 
He is a senior staff sergeant at Bedok Police Division with 14 years of experience in the force.
 
Police revealed these details at a press conference Saturday morning, which was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean -- who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs -- and Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee.

"Today is a sad day for the police," said Ng. "Today, we have arrested a murder suspect who is also a policeman."

He acknowledged that there would be public backlash - "Most of it will be an outcry critical of the police, questioning the quality and integrity of the police officers," he said.

"Even as we investigate the murders, the police also look to find out what has led an individual who has sworn to uphold the law to now stand accused of breaking it in the most grievous way," he added.

DPM Teo said, "No one is above the law. Anyone who breaks the law, in particular officers placed in positions of trust or authority will have to face the full weight of the law. We have zero tolerance for officers who break the law."

Police later added that Iskandar was a former Investigation Officer who was removed from his position as he was facing disciplinary proceedings. Prior to the Kovan murders, he was deployed to perform administrative duties, and was barred from carrying arms.

At the wake of father Tan Boon Sin, 66, and son, Tan Chee Heong, 42, who were murdered in Kovan.  (Yahoo! Sing …

Read the statement by Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee here.

Read the statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean here.

 
Related links:
Singapore police chief visits Kovan murder victims' wake; more details emerge
34-year-old man arrested in connection with Kovan double murder
Elder victim in suspected Kovan double murder was hardworking, kind: employee

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