Murders charged

Four charged with murders of Malaysian cosmetics millionaire, associates

Malaysian authorities charged a lawyer and three other people with the murders of missing cosmetics millionaire Sosilawati Lawiya and three associates, according to a lawyer for one of the defendants.

Lawyer N. Pathmanabhan, 41, and three others were charged today in a magistrate's court in Banting, Selangor, with the murders of 47-year-old Sosilawati and three others, Ravi Nekoo, Pathmanabhan's lawyer, said by telephone. The defendants didn't enter a plea as this was a preliminary stage, he said.

"We have to wait for the prosecution to inform the magistrate's court whether all the documents are ready, and if all the documents are ready the matter will then be transferred to the High Court," said Nekoo. The defendants would decide their next course of action once the case is transferred to the High Court, he said, adding a hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Sosilawati, her attorney, her driver, and a bank officer disappeared Aug. 30 after telling family and friends that they were going to Banting to discuss a land deal, the New Straits Times reported on Sept. 13. Their bodies were burnt and their ashes thrown into a river near a poultry farm, the Times reported without saying where it got the information.

Police found some remains and were conducting DNA tests to identify them, Criminal Investigation Department Chief Bakri Zinin said in a Sept. 14 phone interview.

Sosilawati, founder of the cosmetics retailer Nouvelle Beauty Centre Sdn., began by selling cosmetic products door-to- door before starting her own business brand in 1994. The company had grown in 10 years to 300 stores in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand, the Times reported.

She had six children from her first marriage to a bank manager and was also once married to singer Nashrudin Elias of the rock band Lefthanded, according to the report.

(Published by Bloomberg – October 13, 2010)

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