Death sentence upheld for man who set wife on fire on Deepavali

The Federal Court here today upheld the conviction and death sentence on an unemployed man who set his wife and three of his in-laws on fire on Deepavali Day eight years ago.

Federal Court judges Datuk Hashim Yusoff, Datuk Seri Md Raus Sharif and Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong unanimously dismissed M. Balamurali’s final appeal after ruling that there was no reason to interfere with the findings of the Shah Alam High Court.

Justice Hashim said the issue raised by Balamurali’s counsel T. Vijayandran was evaluated by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Balamurali, 35, was found guilty by the High Court on Nov 12, 2007, of murdering his wife M. Komathi, 25, and her sister-in-law K. Sareswathy, 24, who was 14 weeks pregnant, at his home in Lot 10352 Jalan Bunga Melor, Kampung Baru Hicom, at 10pm on Nov 6, 2002.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the High Court’s decision on Nov 30, 2010.

Komathi and Sareswathy died of severe burns while Balamurali, his mother-in-law S. Mariamah and brother-in-law M. Sivarajah were hospitalised.

Sareswathy died on Nov 10, 2002, four days after the incident while Komathi died on Nov 12, 2002.

Balamurali had doused his wife and three of his in-laws with petrol and torched them after accusing his wife of having an affair.

Mariamah testified that on the day of the incident, she saw Komathi drenched in petrol and Balamurali trying to ignite a lighter.

She said that she, Komathi and Sareswathy tried to stop Balamurali from igniting the lighter by embracing him but were unsuccessful.

In his defence, Balamurali claimed that he had wanted to take his own life in front of his wife.

He said he had doused himself with petrol and was holding a lighter in his hand.

Balamurali claimed that just as he was about to set himself ablaze, his wife and in-laws tried to stop him and found themselves torched.  He denied dousing petrol on Komathi and Sareswathy.

In the appeal proceedings today, Vijayandran urged the court to reduce the charge to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, contending that there was misdirection by the High Court and Court of Appeal on points of law.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Fatnin Yusof submitted that Balamurali knew that igniting the lighter would cause danger to the deceased who had been doused with petrol.

– Bernama