Friday, December 08, 2006

Bodysnatchers update: Case closed

The Islamic enforcement agency finally capitulated and agreed to return the body of Rayappan Anthony to his family for a Christian burial.

This followed on the feels of the Prime Minister directing the issue to be settled amicable and the considerable international attention given to this case which has put the spotlight on Malaysia vaunted religious harmony, following close on the heels of the Lina Joy case, mobs threatening a Church, cemeteries being desecrated and the like.

Lets pray for the soul of Rayappan Anthony who's Requiem Mass will be celebrated in the Good Shepherd Church, Setapak tomorrow. Let's also keep his widow, Lourdes Mary Maria Soosay, and her family in our prayers.

Eternal rest grant upon him O Lord and may perpetual light shine on him.
May his soul rest in peace.

Issue settled – family claims Rayappan’s body

SHAH ALAM: The tussle is over. The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) has withdrawn its claim to the body of the late Rayappan Anthony.

It filed the notice of withdrawal at the Syariah High Court registry here at 4.50pm yesterday, following an announcement by council chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa.

The reason given for the withdrawal was that there was more evidence that showed Rayappan was a non-Muslim when he died.

“We have two sets of facts – some stating that he was not a Muslim and some stating that he was.

“But the existing facts were more towards him being a non-Muslim,” Mohamad Adzib told a press conference at the Mais headquarters here.

Barely an hour earlier, the Syariah Appeal Court ruled that the Syariah High Court had the power to review its Dec 1 order that gave Mais control over Rayappan's body.

The appellate court also ordered a retrial to give a chance to the late van driver's family and any relevant

The Syariah Appeal Court's ruling, however, still considered Rayappan a Muslim until the hearing proved otherwise.

The three-man panel comprising Syariah judges Datuk Sheikh Ghazali Ab Rahman, Datuk Ibrahim Lembut and Datuk Muhammad Asri Abdullah were unanimous in their decision.

Mohamad Adzib said the decision was made after consultations with the state mufti, the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) director, state legal adviser and the council's Syariah lawyers.

The family of Rayappan's second wife, a Muslim, was consulted.

“We believe that we have no more new evidence to present in court. With that, Mais will withdraw the case today (yesterday).

“We will not make a claim for the body,” Mohamad Adzib said.

Rayappan's family members claimed his body from the Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday and were relieved that the issue was finally resolved.

They were happy that their predicament was over and thanked everyone who helped to resolve the matter, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Rayappan’s 65-year-old widow Lourdes Mary Maria Soosay said she prayed every day that her husband's body would be returned to the family.

“The whole family is happy that everything has been sorted out and we can take his body back home with us,” she said.

One of the couple's daughters, Mary, 46, said she found it difficult to forget the torment she went through these past few days but was “thankful for today.”

Rayappan died on Wednesday last week due to complications from diabetes at the hospital.

When his family went to claim his body the next day, Jais officers stopped them, claiming Rayappan was a Muslim.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet had directed the Attorney-General to look into the case to confirm Rayappan's religious status.

Rayappan converted to Islam in 1990 but was said to have converted back to Christianity in 1999, and subsequently confirmed his profession of the Christian faith by way of a statutory declaration before a Commissioner for Oaths.

The funeral will be held at 1pm tomorrow at the Good Shepherd Church in Air Panas, Setapak.

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