KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian court on Tuesday sentenced a fish seller to death for killing two British medical students last year on Borneo island.
Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said the high court found Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, guilty of stabbing to death Aidan Brunger and Neil Gareth Dalton in Sarawak state last August.
"The court ruled that his defense was merely an afterthought. The defense failed to raise any reasonable doubts in the case," Muhamad Iskandar said.
He said Zulkipli made an unsworn statement from the dock during his defense. Zulkipli told the court that he was involved in a fight with the two Britons along with two of his friends and that he punched one of them, but denied stabbing them to death with a knife.
However, Muhamad Iskandar said there was no gang fight and that the attack on the Britons was unprovoked.
The two men with Zulkipli were not charged. They testified for the prosecution that Zulkipli told them he wanted to "test his power" against bigger and taller foreigners, Muhamad Iskandar said. After killing the Britons, he sniffed the blood on his hands and told his friends that "the blood of white men smells nice," the prosecutor said.
Authorities found the folded knife that Zulkipli used in the murders at his house, which matched the stab wounds on the Britons, Muhamad Iskandar said.
Death sentences automatically are appealed, and if it fails in the appeals court, Malaysia's top court would decide the final verdict.
Newcastle University students Brunger and Dalton, both 22, were found dead with stab wounds two days before their work placement at a Sarawak hospital was due to end.
In a joint statement, the victims' families said the two men's deaths have been devastating.
"Our sons would soon have qualified as doctors" and their murders "mean that Aidan and Neil will never have the chance to spend their lives caring for and helping others," the statement said.
"They would have given so much to the world."