Full story: Siam Lee accused claims sabotage, torture and coercion

THE family and friends of Siam Lee were left fighting back tears and shaking their heads in disbelief as the man accused of kidnapping and murdering the 20-year-old woman in January, alleged that he had been tortured while in police custody.

Making his second appearance at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday last week, the 29-year-old, dressed in a black jacket and blue pants, calmly and clearly addressed the court.

“I fear for my life,” he told Magistrate Mohamed Motala, and pleaded to be transferred to Westville prison until his next court appearance.

He claimed he had been assaulted and even suffocated with plastic – all in an effort to force him to confess.

ALSO READ: Local PI shares grim findings in Siam Lee case

“I was told to either confess or leave in a body bag,” said the Assagay resident. “I have bruises and scars all over my body to prove it,” he added.

The suspect also claimed his case had been sabotaged, and investigations had stalled since his first court appearance on 22 January.

“I haven’t been able to properly consult with my attorney,” he said. “Rude and insulting remarks were also made towards my family when they tried to visit me.”

After much debate, Magistrate Motala denied his appeal. Motala said a transfer to Westville prison would make it difficult for the investigating officers to reach him and to complete their investigations.

“It would be in your best interest to keep you in the Durban North cells as this would expedite the case,” he told the accused.

In an effort of fairness the magistrate offered to transfer him to the Durban Central station, but the accused declined.

The magistrate ruled that the accused’s claims be fully investigated and that authorities “act within the ambit of the law and to respect the accused’s constitutional rights”.

 

Siam Lee with her mother, Carmen Nan Lee. Photo: Instagram

 

An attempt to shift the spotlight

Hillcrest private investigator, Brad Nathanson, who arrested the suspect on 17 January, nearly two weeks after Lee’s disappearance, said he was not surprised by the suspect’s allegations in court.

“It’s merely an attempt to shift the spotlight. We see this all the time in high profile cases such as this,” he said.

Lee disappeared on January 4 on Margaret Maytom in Durban North, and her burned body was discovered in a sugarcane fi eld in New Hanover two days later.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Local investigator sheds light on arrest in Siam Lee case

Capt Raymond Deokaran, spokesman for the Durban North SAPS, told Highway Mail’s sister paper, the Northglen News, they would not respond to the suspect’s allegations but rather let justice take its course. Lee’s mother, Carmen Nan Lee, declined to comment.

 

Additional charges

The suspect has thus far been charged with kidnapping, murder and fraud.

However, state prosecutor, Surekha Marimuthu, asked that the accused to be kept in custody for an additional seven days so that investigations can be completed.

Marimuthu said additional charges could be added.

ALSO READ: Siam Lee suspect faces charges for nine additional cases

The state also asked for the additional remand as the case had recently been handed over to the provincial task team.

The court barred the media from taking photos of the suspect as an additional identification parade might still be conducted.

DNA tests are also yet to be finalised so that the body can be released for burial.

Magistrate Motala urged the accused to find new legal representation after his lawyer withdrew from the case.

The suspect returned to the Durban North cells and the case has been postponed until Friday, 9 February.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Mariclair Smit
Journalist

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