Saturday October 26, 2002

Malaysian princess linked to murder

By John Aglionby, south-east Asia correspondent

The murder of a Malaysian prince's junior wife has been turned into a royal scandal by the arrest of his senior wife.
Raja Nor Mahani, the senior wife of Raja Jaafar Raja Muda Musa, was remanded to police headquarters in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday at a special court hearing.
The magistrate rejected the prosecution's application for a 14-day remand.
Five men were charged at about the same time with the murder of Hasleza Ishak, 26, the model and actress whom the prince married in January, but the authorities believe that Princess Nor Mahani, 60, may have been involved.
The prince, 62, is second in line to the Perak sultanate.
The five suspects, one of whom worked at the prince's palace, did not plead and were remanded in custody until next Friday, when their trial will begin.
They are liable to the death penalty, as is anyone guilty of aiding and abetting a murder.
Witnesses are said to have seen two men dragging Princess Hasleza out of her car and into a van near her home in the city of Ipoh on October 6. She was found five days later under a waterfall in Lenggong, with her hands and feet bound.
Ten days later the national police chief, Norian Mai, said the case had been solved.
He conceded that jealousy might have been a motive.
Princess Nor Mahani's lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said she insisted that she had nothing to do with the murder and was "very upset with the whole thing".
The majority of Malaysia's 23 million people are Muslim and men are allowed to take as many as four wives. Few do, except the rich and upper-class.
Malaysia has royal families in nine of its 13 states who take it in turn to provide the federal monarch.

Sunday, 13 October, 2002

Malaysian princess confirmed dead

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

As Muslims Malaysia's princes can have up to four wives
Police in Malaysia have confirmed that a body found on Friday is that of a kidnapped Malaysian princess.
Twenty-six-year-old Hazleza Ishak, who was known as Princess Leza, was found with her hands and feet tied beneath a bridge in the state of Perak, north of Kuala Lumpur.
The former model and actress was the second wife of Raja Jaafar Raha Muda Musa, 62, who is second in line to the throne of Perak.
Police have arrested seven men and a woman in connection with the murder. According to the New Straits Times, police have questioned several members of the Perak royal family which claims descent from Alexander the Great.
However, police have denied that a woman arrested is a member of the family.
Raja Jaafar was photographed as he arrived at a hospital in the state capital, Ipoh, on Saturday to collect his wife's remains.
Hazleza's mother Salamah said she had been at her daughter's home last Sunday and had seen her daughter abducted as she tried to drive away from the house.
"I looked out and noticed two men dragging Hazleza from her car and bundling her into a van before speeding off, she told the New Straits Times.
Princess Leza's partly decomposed body was found five days later, clad in jeans and brassiere in a remote beauty spot.
The former fashion model appeared in a local movie, "Putera", several years ago.
Princess Leza is said to be a divorcee and is variously reported as having one or two children from her previous marriage.
Palace sources say she married Raja Jaafar in January this year.
It is not uncommon for Malay princes to take celebrity wives.
Three weeks ago, Tunku Azudinshah Tunku Anuar, 33, a TV producer and the nephew of the Sultan of Kedah, married the Anglo-Malaysian VJ, TV presenter and celebrity Paula Malai Ali.
Nine of Malaysia's states have royal families and the nine rulers take it in turns to be head of state with the title passing to a new king or yang di-pertuan agong every five years.
Malaysian royals are treated with considerable deference and lead privileged lives.
Although the rulers wield very little political power they play a prominent ceremonial role.
It is widely considered taboo to criticise them.
However the news of Princess Leza's murder has been widely reported and it is likely to be the topic of conversation in Malaysia for days to come.

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