Kovan double murder (2013)

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The trail of blood pictured along Upper Serangoon Road. Photo from The New Paper.

On 10 July 2013, shocked onlookers witnessed a body being dragged underneath a car as it sped along Upper Serangoon Road. The body was eventually dislodged and found near Kovan MRT Station. The police followed the blood trail and arrived at 14J Hillside Drive where they discovered an elderly man who had been stabbed to death. The man was believed to be the deceased’s father.[1]


Two days later, a veteran police officer, Iskandar Rahmat, was arrested in Johor Bahru and extradited to Singapore after a 54-hour manhunt.[2] He was subsequently charged for what the media dubbed as the “Kovan Double Murder”.

Victim profiles[edit | edit source]

Tan Boon Sin[edit | edit source]

Tan Boon Sin was the first victim of the Kovan double murder case. Photo from The New Paper.

Tan Boon Sin was a successful car mechanic turned businessman. He had co-founded Soc Leon Motor Works with a friend and was described as the “ultimate nice guy”.[3] According to his former business partner, Chong Hoy Song, who had known Tan since 1965:

“He did not drink, smoke, gamble or womanise. The only thing he liked doing was fishing.”[4]

Tan Boon Sin was remembered as a “very nice person” and was “well-liked” by his neighbours and friends.[5]

Tan Chee Heong[edit | edit source]

The eldest son to Tan Boon Sin, Tan Chee Heong was a university graduate and married with two children.[6] He was also the Director and a shareholder of Aspern Singapore, an electronics products company.[7]

Investigation details[edit | edit source]

The getaway car that had belonged to the Tan family. Photo from The Straits Times.

Getaway car[edit | edit source]

Based on eyewitness reports, the suspect was seen driving a silver Toyota Camry that belonged to Tan Boon Sin. This was the car that dragged Tan Chee Heong along Upper Serangoon Road. The police could not initially identify the driver however, they found the vehicle in Eunos a day later.[8]


The abandoned car was parked outside Block 1084, Eunos Avenue 7A, just a kilometre away from Tan Boon Sin’s former workshop. The police arrived after receiving a call from Francis Yeo, a carpenter, regarding a blood-stained car with the licence number SGM14J.[9]

Arrest of suspect in Johor Bahru[edit | edit source]

On 12 July 2013, Malaysian plainclothes officers moved in on Iskandar bin Rahmat at Restoran Singgah Selalu in Danga Bay, a waterfront area just minutes from the Causeway.[10] According to the restaurant’s manager, Mohamed Faizal, the Malaysian policemen surrounded Iskandar swiftly and the latter had not resisted arrest. He was extradited to Singapore about 12 hours later and taken to the Police Cantonment Complex.[11]

Iskandar Rahmat[edit | edit source]

A younger Iskandar Rahmat. Photo from The New Paper.

According to his friends, Iskandar was someone who was “friendly” and “likes to joke”. He was also a photography enthusiast. He “never lets go of his camera” and pursued photography as a hobby.[12]

Police veteran[edit | edit source]

Iskandar studied electronics at Singapore Polytechnic in 1997. However, he did not complete his education. In March 1999, he started working in the Singapore Police Force and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.[13] He was a Senior Investigation Officer and was based at Bedok North Neighbourhood Police Centre under the Bedok Police division. He regularly won commendations and was recognised as a model officer on the police website.[14]

Marital and financial problems[edit | edit source]

Iskandar got married in 2003. However, financial and marital problems culminated in his divorce in 2005. He had no children.[15] After his divorce in 2005, Iskandar’s financial problems meant that he could not meet his housing and car loan repayments. The bank seized his assets but he continued to owe them more than S$60,000.[16] 


In January 2013, Iskandar was placed on “administrative duties” and barred from carrying a weapon after his financial status was made known in the police force.[17] He had also been facing internal disciplinary proceedings as he had failed to declare his financial status. In turn, this would have possibly cost him his job.[18]

The crime[edit | edit source]

The route that Iskandar Rahmat had taken after the murders. Photo from The New Paper.

Iskandar Rahmat was charged with two counts of murder. His 9-day trial commenced in October 2015. The court heard of Iskandar’s initial meeting with Tan Boon Sin and the events leading up to the murders.

Initial meeting (November 2012)[edit | edit source]

Iskandar first met Tan Boon Sin at Bedok Police Division in November 2012. At the time, Tan Boon Sin had lodged a report over the theft of S$35,000 from his Certis CISCO safe deposit box. Iskandar had been the Investigating Officer in charge of Tan’s case. During his investigation, he believed that Tan had another S$200,000 in the box.[19]

The planned robbery (July 2013)[edit | edit source]

The murders occurred within the terrace house compound of the Tan's residence (pictured). Photo from The Straits Times.

A week before the murder, Iskandar offered the bank a lump sum cash settlement of S$50,000 to avert bankruptcy. This agreement was made even though he had less than S$400 in cash at that time.[20] According to Iskandar, his plan to rob Tan was a “passing idea” after he had found out about the remaining amount in Tan’s deposit box.[21] Iskandar was declared bankrupt a day after the murders.[22]


On 10 July 2013, Iskandar, posing as an officer from the Police Intelligence Department, called Tan Boon Sin from a payphone. Over the call, Iskandar told Tan Boon Sin that he had received a tip-off that his safe deposit box was going to be broken into. As such, he needed him to empty the box and place a CCTV camera - which would be a dummy - in the box. Tan Boon Sin  agreed to Iskandar’s plan. Iskandar also offered to escort him back home after he retrieved his valuables.[23]

The murders (July 2013)[edit | edit source]

Upon reaching Tan Boon Sin’s home, Iskandar allegedly planned to “take the bag and run”. However, a scuffle ensued and Iskandar stabbed him. Tan Boon Sin’s eldest son, Tan Chee Heong, stepped inside the house to witness Iskandar putting down his father’s limp body. A second struggle occurred and Iskandar stabbed the younger Tan.[24]


While it was unclear what occurred afterwards, eye-witnesses reported a body being dragged under a silver Toyota Camry along Upper Serangoon Road. Tan Chee Heong’s body was dragged for more than 1km until he was dislodged about a kilometre away from Kovan MRT station.[25]

Escape and capture[edit | edit source]

Iskandar told the police and the court that he threw the knife and his bloodied clothes into a canal in East Coast Park. Following that, he went home and fled to Johor Bahru on his scooter.[26] On 12 July 2013, he was arrested at a restaurant in Danga Bay and was extradited to Singapore the following day.[27]

Iskandar's defence[edit | edit source]

"Self-defence" claims[edit | edit source]

While Iskandar did not dispute that the wounds he had inflicted caused their deaths, he insisted that he had not intended to kill them.[28] In his words, he stated that:

“If I had the intention to kill, I would have done it the moment I arrived at the house.”[29]

Iskandar claimed that Tan Boon Sin had been the one to brandish the knife after discovering Iskandar’s plan. The knife had allegedly been taken from Tan’s kitchen. According to Iskandar, Tan aggressively approached him with the knife and in the struggle, Iskandar grabbed hold of the knife and accidentally stabbed him. When Tan Chee Heong entered the house, he lunged at Iskandar intending to punch him. When Iskandar punched him back, he “did not realise that he still had the knife in his hand”.[30]


Iskandar attempted to build his defence based on the wounds that he had sustained during the scuffle and the unconfirmed origins of the murder weapon.[31] As the knife was never recovered, the defence could make a case about the origins of the murder weapon. In his statement, Iskandar stated the following:

“If I had a knife with me, I would expect blood. But I didn’t bring any extra clothes with me, I didn’t prepare a getaway car near the house. I planned to run out of the house and hail a cab. If I had the intention to kill… with a knife, I would know (that there would be) blood on myself. How am I going to go to the main road and hail a cab with blood on my clothes.”[32]

Prosecution's rebuttal[edit | edit source]

Upon hearing the defence, the prosecution argued that based on the extent of the injuries inflicted on the Tans, Iskandar had attacked to silence them.[33] It was revealed in court that Tan Boon Sin was stabbed more than 20 times on “vulnerable areas” such as his neck and face. Similarly, his son was stabbed at least 11 times on his scalp, face and neck. As such, the prosecution argued that Iskandar’s actions contradicted his self-defence claims.[34]


The prosecution also highlighted several inconsistencies in Iskandar’s story. According to the prosecution, Iskandar’s plan to “just run” would not have worked because the crime would be reported. Consequently, the police report would link back to him as he had handled Tan’s case in 2012.[35] Moreover, the prosecution noted that Iskandar could give a sketch of the serrated knife, implying that the knowledge would only be known if the knife belonged to him.[36]

Verdict (December 2015)[edit | edit source]

Iskandar Rahmat pictured in 2017. Photo from Berita Harian.

On 4 December 2015, the High Court found Iskandar guilty of both charges in the Kovan double murders and sentenced him to hang. The judge rejected Iskandar’s defence stating that based on the evidence put forth by the prosecution, the former police officer had attacked the Tans “cruelly and relentlessly with the clear intention of causing death.”[37]

Appeal[edit | edit source]

Iskandar’s lawyers filed an appeal against the sentence. They urged the court to consider two new pieces of evidence - a forensic pathology report and a psychiatric report - and argued that “the murder convictions should be overturned and replaced with reduced charges.”[38] According to the pathology report, Iskandar did suffer defensive injuries. This implicated Tan Boon Sin as the aggressor and supported Iskandar's self-defence claims. The psychiatric report revealed that Iskandar was diagnosed with two mental illnesses at the time of the murders.[39]


However, the prosecution called the reports “unreliable” and “self-serving” as they were prepared more than 3 years after the killings and more than eight months after the trial.[40] Thereafter, his appeal was rejected. Following that, Iskandar petitioned to President Halimah Yacob for clemency but was rejected.[41]

Complaint against defence lawyers[edit | edit source]

Iskandar filed a complaint against his lawyers in June 2019. The Law Society (LawSoc) turned down his complaint after an inquiry committee recommended that “no further action was necessary.” Iskandar then filed to have the decision reviewed and the case referred to a disciplinary tribunal.[42]


On 12 October 2019, the High Court rejected his complaint. Justice Valerie Thean ruled that the inquiry committee’s report and LawSoc decision were sound and that there was “no prima facie case of ethical breach or other misconduct” by his lawyers that warranted a formal investigation.[43]

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. Jalelah Abu Baker and David Ee. “Father and son found dead in Kovan”. The Straits Times. July 11, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  2. Lee, Amanda. “Kovan murder suspect charged”. Today. July 16, 2013. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  3. "Murdered dad was 'ultimate nice guy'". The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. 26 November 2019. Retrieved from thestraitstimes.com.
  4. "Murdered dad was 'ultimate nice guy'". The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. 26 November 2019. Retrieved from thestraitstimes.com.
  5. "Murdered dad was 'ultimate nice guy'". The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. 26 November 2019. Retrieved from thestraitstimes.com.
  6. "Murdered dad was 'ultimate nice guy'". The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. 26 November 2019. Retrieved from thestraitstimes.com.
  7. "Older victim took out items 'from safe deposit box'". The Straits Times. July 13, 2013. Accessed on 26 November 2019. Retrieved from thestraitstimes.com.
  8. Jalelah Abu Baker. “Car found in Eunos, search on for Kovan killer”. The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  9. Jalelah Abu Baker. “Car found in Eunos, search on for Kovan killer”. The Straits Times. July 12, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  10. Lim, Joyce. “Arrested at popular JB eatery”. The Straits Times. July 14, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  11. Lim, Joyce. “Arrested at popular JB eatery”. The Straits Times. July 14, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  12. Nurul ‘Ain Razali. “Kes pembunuhan dua beranak di Kovan; Suspek hadapi masalah hutang”. Berita Minggu. July 14, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  13. Nurul ‘Ain Razali. “Kes pembunuhan dua beranak di Kovan; Suspek hadapi masalah hutang”. Berita Minggu. July 14, 2013. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  14. Jennifer Dhanaraj. “From elite cop to disgraced bankrupt”. The New Paper. July 14, 2013. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  15. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  16. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  17. Jennifer Dhanaraj. “From elite cop to disgraced bankrupt”. The New Paper. July 14, 2013. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  18. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  19. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  20. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  21. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  22. Jennifer Dhanaraj. “From elite cop to disgraced bankrupt”. The New Paper. July 14, 2013. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  23. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  24. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  25. Tang, Louisa. “Kovan double murder: High Court dismisses ex-cop’s appeal for his lawyers to face disciplinary tribunal”. Today. October 11, 2019. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from todayonline.com.
  26. Teo Xuanwei. “Kovan murder trial: Accused ‘hatched intricate robbery plot’“. Today. October 21, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  27. “Suspect in Kovan double murders in S’pore police custody”. Channel News Asia. July 13, 2013. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  28. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  29. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  30. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  31. Teo Xuanwei. “Kovan murder trial: Accused ‘hatched intricate robbery plot’". Today. October 21, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  32. “‘I was fearing for my life’: Kovan double murders accused claims self-defence”. Channel News Asia. October 30, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  33. “Kovan double murders: Ex-cop silenced his victims after robbery, prosecution says”. Channel News Asia. November 9, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  34. “Former police officer on trial over Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 20, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  35. “Kovan double murders: Ex-cop silenced his victims after robbery, prosecution says”. Channel News Asia. November 9, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  36. Teo Xuanwei. “Kovan murder trial: Accused ‘hatched intricate robbery plot’". Today. October 21, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  37. Lum, Selina. “Kovan double murders: Iskandar found guilty of murder of both victims, sentenced to hang”. The Straits Times. December 4, 2015. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  38. “Ex-policeman appeals to escape death penalty for Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 26, 2016. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  39. “Ex-policeman appeals to escape death penalty for Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 26, 2016. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  40. “Ex-policeman appeals to escape death penalty for Kovan double murders”. Channel News Asia. October 26, 2016. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  41. K.C. Vijayan. “Kovan double murders: Ex-cop fails in his bid to be spared the gallows”. The Straits Times. August 1, 2019. Accessed 13 November 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  42. Tang, Louisa. “Kovan double murder: High Court dismisses ex-cop’s appeal for his lawyers to face disciplinary tribunal”. Today. October 12, 2019. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from todayonline.com.
  43. Tang, Louisa. “Kovan double murder: High Court dismisses ex-cop’s appeal for his lawyers to face disciplinary tribunal”. Today. October 12, 2019. Accessed 14 November 2019. Retrieved from todayonline.com.