Victim was a moneylender; client held on charge of murder

The Rural police on Thursday exhumed the dismembered body of a moneylender from the compound of a house rented by one of his clients at a remote locality near Korani in Chirayankeezhu taluk.

They identified the victim as Salim, a resident of Varkala. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy. SP), Attingal, K.E. Baiju arrested Salim's main client and leaseholder of the house, Sherif, in connection with the murder. The police said it was a craftly planned and remorselessly executed “murder for profit” case.

According to the police, Sherif invited Salim home on July 9 morning and served him liquor laced with sedatives. Sherif had sent his wife and two children to a relative's house the previous day.

The police said Sherif killed the man by smashing his head with a machete. They said Sherif dismembered the body in the bathroom, packed the pieces into nine bags and buried them in a pit in the compound. Sherif had hired labourers to dig the pit in May under the pretext of constructing an additional septic tank.

Sherif, a taxi driver in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, had borrowed nearly Rs. 75 lakh on interest from Salim last year. He used the amount to run his own moneylending operation among other migrant workers in Riyadh. The police believe that Sherif possibly killed Salim to avoid repaying the money.

Salim, who is estranged from his family, was reported missing since July 9. Investigators found that Salim had received a few calls on his mobile phone from a “newly initiated SIM connection” on the day of his disappearance. Investigators learnt that a SIM card vendor in Kallambalam had initiated the connection after inadvertently accepting photostat copies of forged documents, including that of a passport, as identity proof.

The photograph on the passport copy turned out to be that of a Bangladesh citizen and the document's number was seen altered. Forensic experts retrieved the original number of the passport by scientifically examining its forged copy. The passport belonged to a Kannur resident employed in Riyadh.

He told the police that he had given his passport as collateral to Sherif from whom he had taken a loan. The police arrested Sherif who reportedly “confessed” to the crime.

A magistrate remanded him to judicial custody on the charge of conspiracy, murder and destruction of evidence.