Source AP ©

Malaysian imprisoned for murdering friend in botched supernatural ritual

A Malaysian who killed his friend in a drunken rage following a failed superstitious ritual to obtain lottery numbers has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, state prosecutors said Monday.

Azam Ramli, a 37-year-old scrap metal trader, pleaded guilty in a High Court in northeastern Kelantan state Sunday to killing rubber tapper Koh Ah Wang on a palm oil plantation on March 12, 2005, said Kelantan deputy public prosecutor Shahidani Abdul Aziz.

High Court Judge Azman Husin sentenced Azam to 11 years in jail from the date of his arrest on April 26, 2005. Azam had faced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

According to Shahidani, Azam and Koh got drunk together on the night of the murder. Koh then convinced Azam that he could solve Azam's financial troubles by seeking winning lottery numbers from a spirit that they believed was dwelling in an ant mound in the plantation, Shahidani said.

"The accused became upset when he saw no spirit rising from the mound," Shahidani told the AP.

Azam claimed both men tried to summon a spirit, but details of the ritual were not clear.

Azam then struck Koh repeatedly with a steel pipe and left him for dead in a ditch, Shahidani said. A passer-by found Koh's body nearly two weeks later, and police arrested Azam after learning that he had been the last person seen with Koh before his death.

Mostly Muslim Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia's most modern countries, but superstitious beliefs remain entrenched in rural areas. Some people have been known to hold ceremonies, such as offering blood sacrifices of animals, to acquire supernatural knowledge or powers.

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