Frustrated at the cries of his girlfriend’s baby, a man in Singapore slammed the child’s head against the floorboard of his van at least twice, causing fatal injuries to the nine-month-old.
On Thursday, Mohamed Aliff Mohamed Yusoff, a 29-year-old who works in construction, was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane after being found guilty of the murder that took place around midnight on Nov. 7, 2019.
The court heard that the baby, Izz Fayyaz Zayani Ahmad, had spilled his mother’s drink during dinner earlier that night, which led to an argument between the couple over how to discipline the child. Nadiah Abdul Jalil, the child’s mother, had agreed to let Aliff take care of her baby that night as she had work the next day.
When Aliff met Nadiah again later that night, they drove around before she realized that her child was lying motionless in the back of the van. Aliff claimed that Izz fell to the floor and bounced to the ground as he was holding him and trying to close the door of his van.
Aliff then suggested to his girlfriend that they pay someone to bury Izz and wait a year before reporting him missing. Nadiah said she rejected the idea, but Aliff continued to delay taking the child to seek medical attention.
Even after the couple arrived at the hospital car park in their van, surveillance footage revealed that it took Aliff 36 minutes to take Izz to the emergency department. During this period, Aliff disposed of his phone, brushed his teeth, and cleaned his body, out of fear of being remanded by the police, Nadiah said.
When Izz was finally seen by hospital staff, he was pronounced dead after 10 minutes.
When questioned by the police, Aliff teetered between his original claim of it being an accident and admitting that he was the one who pressed Izz’s head into the floor. A forensic expert found that Izz had died from a brain hemorrhage as a result of traumatic injury. However, contrary to Aliff’s claim that the baby had fallen accidentally, Izz was not found with lacerations or linear abrasion to the skull that would have likely appeared in that instance.
In July, the court concluded that Aliff had caused the fatal injuries and found him guilty of murder. His life sentence was announced on Thursday, with the judge saying that his actions after hurting the baby, including delaying taking him to get treatment, demonstrated a “disturbing lack of remorse.”
Prosecutors sought life imprisonment for Aliff, along with 15 to 18 strokes of the cane, while his defense team sought the same jail term with five to six strokes of the cane. The prosecution also noted that after serving 20 years of his sentence, Aliff would be eligible for remission, where he may be released. Singapore’s current remission system allows for most inmates to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence, with the condition that they do not re-offend.
While under Singaporean law, the death penalty can be handed to offenders who demonstrate viciousness or a blatant disregard for human life, Aliff’s case did not warrant such a sentence, said the judge.
As social media users expressed shock at the chilling murder, Aliff’s sentence has also raised questions about Singapore’s approach to the death penalty. The country finds itself facing increasing scrutiny for sentencing drug traffickers—often drug users struggling with addiction themselves—to death by hanging.
“Drug abusers/mules get the noose but murderers of babies get life imprisonment? Seems strange to me,” one Reddit user commented, referring to those caught carrying small amounts of narcotics and convicted of drug trafficking.
Despite criticism from international rights groups and local activists, Singapore has ramped up its executions after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. Since March, at least 10 people have been hanged for drug offenses, including a 49-year-old man who was executed late last month for trafficking cannabis. Carrying more than 500 grams of the plant is punishable by death under Singapore’s drug laws.