March 19, 2009

Sujatha Inquest: I paid downpayment for her condo, says Vell Paari

KUALA LUMPUR: The chief executive officer of Maika Holdings Bhd, S. Vell Paari, paid RM220,000 as a downpayment for the condominium of late local drama actress K. Sujatha.
For the remaining RM200,000, he took a loan under his name but the unit was registered in Sujatha's name and she was servicing the loan payments.
Vell Paari said this in the coroner's court yesterday at the inquest into the death of Sujatha, 28, who died at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang on June 25, 2007, several days after she was admitted for allegedly drinking weedkiller.
He said he paid for Sujatha's medical treatment and education -- her final year in diploma and her Master's degree in commerce -- and was also the guarantor for the bank loan taken for her Mazda RX8.
He, however, denied buying the car for Sujatha, who was then his personal assistant.
He said that in his statement regarding her death, he had stated that she died following an illness caused by an ovarian cyst.
Vell Paari, 46, said he had lied because of a request from Sujatha's family.
"After she died, her two brothers asked me not to reveal the true cause of her death. They said that if it was revealed (in the media) that she died after consuming paraquat, the public will have the perception that she had committed suicide although she (Sujatha) had said that she consumed it unknowingly."
He said the brothers did not want their sister's name to be tarnished in any way.
Vell Paari was the fourth witness to be called in the inquest. He had told the inquest on Monday that Sujatha had told him that she had "unknowingly" drunk the weedkiller at her condominium on June 19, 2007.
To a question by deputy public prosecutor Geethan Ram Vincent, who was assisting coroner Mohd Faizi Che Abu, Vell Paari admitted that Sujatha had accompanied him to several official functions.
He also admitted that he had accompanied Sujatha and her family members twice to India for her medical treatment, which he had funded.
Sujatha had also accompanied him to Australia. Vell Paari's wife Shaila Nair had never followed them during these trips.
Vell Paari denied having a sexual relationship with Sujatha, but said that he would normally go to her house for official reasons and also during functions.
Geethan: You are a caring employer.
Vell Paari: Yes, I do that for all my staff.
Geethan: Is it the norm for you to buy a house for your employee?
Vell Paari: Yes, the amount has been higher for some of them.
On Monday, Vell Paari told the court that he had funded the education for Sujatha's two brothers, Surenthiran and Ugenthiran. Ugenthiran was then studying in Australia.
Asked if he suspected any foul play in her death, Vell Paari answered in the negative and did not think Sujatha had any enemies as she was a well-liked person.
The court was also shown a newspaper cutting and a photograph of Vell Paari and his wife which were taken from Sujatha's house.
The newspaper cutting was of their wedding photograph while the photo was one of Vell Paari and his wife taken during their wedding reception. This picture was torn into pieces and stuck back using tape.
During cross-examination by his counsel, Datuk K. Kumaraendran, Vell Paari said Sujatha had a good relationship with his wife and they had attended functions together.
He said the last two functions that Sujatha and his wife had attended together was a fashion magazine event which was held several months before her death and also the launch of the movie Sivaji, just a few days before she was admitted to hospital.
The inquest continues today.
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