RIP Zulfarhan: The Navy Cadet Who Was Tortured To Death By His Fellow UPNM Students
On 1 June, a young Navy, cadet who was admitted to the Serdang Hospital, died at 9pm. Police are investigating his death under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
Who was he?
For those who knew him, late Navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain was a kind person. He was polite, soft-spoken and never had any bad relationship with anyone.
"If you got to know Zulfarhan in person, you would understand how kind and soft-hearted he was," Zulfarhan's 30-year-old cousin Mohd Nuridhuan Saadon described the late cadet, adding, "He always respected the elderly."
A third-year student at the National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM), 21-year-old Zulfarhan was studying electrical engineering.
A few days before, Zulfarhan, who was the eldest of four siblings, had telephoned his mother to let her know that he wouldn't be able to return home to celebrate Ramadan.
Little did the mother knew that she would never get to see her son again.
How did Zulfarhan die?
The 21-year-old undergraduate student was physically tortured.
A victim of bullying and abuse by his fellow students, Zulfarhan was tied up, beaten and burnt with a steam iron for days, according to The Star Online.
Zulfarhan was pronounced dead at Serdang Hospital on Thursday night at 9pm after he succumbed to injuries. His body was found 80% covered in bruises and burn marks.
Why was he tortured?
According to The Star, the late Navy cadet officer was tortured by his supposed friends because of a dispute over a laptop. It has been alleged Zulfarhan had stolen a laptop.
He was beaten and tortured for two days with a belt, rubber hose, iron and hanger by his fellow university students on 20 and 21 May, The Star reported.
"A week later on 27 May, two of his batch mates drove the victim to a clinic in Bangi for treatment. They brought him to the clinic again on 31 May," The Star cited a source.
On 1 June, Thursday, when Zulfarhan’s condition had worsened at around 8pm, the duo had no choice but to rush him to Hospital Serdang where he succumbed to his injuries.
He was being tortured from 20 May and no one noticed?
It's the same question on everyone's mind right now.
While it's highly unlikely that no one noticed anything, Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Fadzil Ahmad has declined to confirm or deny the circumstances of Zulfarhan's death, saying only that "it was an ongoing murder investigation."
Dave Avran, the founder of Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and Snatch Theft, said it was strange that Zulfarhan could have been severely tortured without going unnoticed.
"I find it bizarre that the student had been severely bullied over a period of time without being noticed by those in charge," he was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.
"Even worse, the assailants had taken Zulfarhan out of the campus and were only detected much later, after the victim had succumbed to his injuries," he added.
So what are the authorities doing now?
Yesterday, 2 June, police arrested a total of 36 students at the UPNM campus.
They are all male, aged 20 to 21. While 32 of them are from UPNM, four others are from Universiti Tenaga Nasional. All of them have been remanded for a week until 8 June.
The Higher Education Ministry and UPNM have said that they will cooperate with Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) in the murder investigation.
The MAF has pledged to take stern action against the perpetrators, saying it would conduct a thorough investigation and asked the public not to speculate.
"MAF views this incident very seriously and will conduct an internal probe to see what caused the incident. We will not compromise with those involved and will take stern action against them," The Malaysian Insight reported MAF saying in a statement.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has ordered an immediate investigation into Zulfarhan's death
Taking to his Twitter account, Hishammuddin tweeted, "I am sad to hear about the death of Navy Cadet Officer @upnm, Zulfarhan Osman bin Zulkarnain. Al Fatihah.
"I have ordered the ATM and UPNM to conduct an investigation immediately. No-one will escape the law if they are found guilty," he said in his second tweet.
Yesterday night, 2 June, Navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain was laid to rest at the Kebun Teh Muslim Cemetery after his remains were brought to his hometown
His burial was carried out about 9.30pm after a hearse from the Malaysian Armed Forces arrived with the body at the cemetery at 9.15pm, reported Malaysiakini.
The ceremony was attended by over 100 people, including family members and friends.