Cosmetics millionaire's slaying grips Malaysia

Police suspect botched land deal, grill two lawyers of Indian origin

Cosmetics millionaire's slaying grips Malaysia

Sosilawati Lawiya and three of her aides went missing late last month; her BMW sedan was later found abandoned outside a Kuala Lumpur apartment building. It wasn’t until earlier this week, however, when police announced that all four were probably murdered, their bodies burned and the ashes discarded in streams near the lawyers’ property that the case exploded into a full-scale media sensation.

On Wednesday, police combed a vast oil palm estate, which includes a poultry farm owned by one of the brothers, hoping to find evidence linking them to what appears to be a rare case of mass murder in Malaysia. A day earlier, investigators fished a knife from a muddy stream and seized computers from the lawyer’s office in a nearby town.

The motive for the killings, police say, could be a land deal gone bad, and they are looking into whether the two lawyers may have been involved in other killings. The two ethnic Indians have been detained for questioning, but authorities have barred the media from naming them until they are charged. Six farm workers were also arrested but not charged.

The case has dominated Malaysian media this week. “Killer lawyers?” read Monday’s headline in The Star daily. “Killed and Burnt,” “Their Throats were Slit,” proclaimed others.
Humble start Sosilawati, a 47-year-old mother of six, was small-town girl from a humble upbringing in Malaysia’s southern Johor State who started off selling cosmetic products door-to-door.

In 1998, she founded her own company, Nouvelle Beauty Care, opening several stores and developing the Nouvelles Visages cosmetics line. She left her house on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, according to police, headed for the town of Banting to discuss a land deal with the brothers, one of whom carries the state title of “Datuk”, given to citizens with a history of service to the community.

Sosilawati was accompanied by her driver, financial adviser, and her lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, all of whom are also missing. Her BMW was found a week later in Kuala Kumpur. Another luxury car belonging to Ahmad Kamil was later found nearby.

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