Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Have the TBH RCI absolved MACC and MACC officers of responsibility for the death of Teoh Beng Hock?

--Lim Kit Siang

On Thursday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz made public the James Foong Royal Commission of Inquiry Report on the death of Teoh Beng Hock while in custody, control and care of the MACC at the MACC headquarters at Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.

In an interview with Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday, Nazri said among other things that although the MACC “needs to revamp itself, the RCI had absolved it of murder charges and this should not be questioned further”.

In my speech at the DAP Taman Housing Trust dinner/ceramah in Ipoh on Sunday night, I took Nazri to task for his Mingguan Malaysia interview and in particular his stand that the TBH RCI had absolved MACC and MACC officers of all responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death.

This was why I challenged Nazri to quote the RCI report to show where it had “absolved” MACC of responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death.

I had instead quoted two paragraphs in the TBH RCI report where the RCI pointedly referred to “MACC officers responsible for TBH’s death”, viz:

1. (when expressing “grave reservations” over the evidence of one MACC officer Raymond Nion anak John Timban who had testified that he saw Beng Hock at 6 am on the fateful morning of 16th July 2009 “lying on the sofa outside Nadzri’s room”), the TBH RCI said:

“In our opinion, he was not a reliable witness and was used by those responsible for TBH’s death to distance them from their wrongdoings by creating an impression that TBH was not only alive at 6am on the 16th but was also resting comfortably and peacefully on the sofa outside Nadzri’s room.” – Para 198

2. In Para 201, the TBH RCI said:

“ As it become obvious to us that Raymond’s evidence was tailored to fit certain objectives which in this case dovetailed those of the MACC officers responsible for TBH’s death, we rejected his evidence as being unworthy of any weight or consideration in respect of the time he claimed to have seen TBH at 6am on the 16th.”

I had asked how Nazri could jump to the conclusion that the TBH RCI had “absolved” MACC of responsibility for Beng Hock’s death when it specifically in Paras 198 and 201 pinpointed on “MACC officers responsible for TBH’s death” (words used by TBH RCI)?

I continued:

“Any reasonable person who read the ‘horror stories’ of the lawlessness and heinous criminalities rampant in MACC particularly in Selangor, as described by the TBH RCI report, can only arrive at the conclusion without having to rely on Paras 198 and 201 of the TBH RCI that several MACC officers must be held responsible for TBH’s death.

“Yes, the TBH RCI did not specifically name the MACC officers responsible for TBH’s death (although their identities are quite obvious to anyone reading the RCI report) but how can Nazri claim that MACC had been “absolved” of responsibility for Beng Hock’s death when the TBH RCI had openly and directly pinpointed ‘MACC officers’ as responsible for the death?

“I would advise Nazri to re-read the TBH RCI report carefully.”

On Sunday night, I also challenged Nazri to defend his “clearly wrong and misguided stand that MACC and its officers are ‘absolved’ from all responsibility for Beng Hock’s death” to come tonight to the public forum “Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission Inquiry Report – Where is the promised truth?” to defend and justify his stand.

I subsequently learnt that Nazri had gone to London to attend the 57th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference 21-28 July and his press secretary Ahmad Fazli posted on my twitter and facebook that he received instruction from Nazri to accept my “challenge for the debate” but suggesting that the debate be held after Hari Raya Puasa due to the Holy month of Ramadan.

I had not used the word “debate” but had challenged Nazri to come to the forum tonight to justify his stand that the RCI had “absolved” MACC and MACC officers from responsibility for Beng Hock’s death – which I disagreed.

This was why I had quoted two passages from the RCI report referring specifically to “MACC officers responsible for TBH’s death” although the RCI had come out of with the finding of “suicide” as the cause of Beng Hock’s death, viz:

“119. Having considered all the evidence in its entirety, we found that TBH was driven to commit suicide by the aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation to which he was subjected by certain officers of the MACC who were involved in the ongoing operation by the Selangor MACC on the night of the 15th and into the morning of the 16th.”

Is this a simple and straightforward “suicide”, forced suicide or homicide, especially taking in account the “horror stories” in the TBH RCI report about rank lawlessness and heinous criminalities rampant with MACC officers involved in the TBH interrogation?

If asked, I believe all right-thinking Malaysians can only give a categorical and thunderous answer of: “homicide”!

Whether Teoh Beng Hock died of “suicide” or “homicide” cannot be ascertained by a public debate, but only through further thorough and intensive police investigations and prosecution.

If Nazri, not able to attend this forum still wants to have an opportunity to justify his stand that the TBH RCI report had “absolved” MACC and MACC officers of all responsibility for TBH’s death, I am prepared to oblige and we can discuss the details after Nazri’s return from London.

But the more important question is whether Malaysians can absolve MACC and MACC officers from TBH’s death.

The most pressing issue at present is what action could be taken to get the authorities to press on with further investigations into TBH’s death from the leads opened up by the TBH RCI.

Teoh Beng Hock’s wife and family members have rejected the “suicide” finding of the TBH RCI.

The Bar Council has rejected the TBH RCI finding of suicide as the cause of TBH death, demanding that the authorities should investigate the MACC officers for possible offences under Sections 304 and 304a of the Penal Code, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for causing the death of Teoh by negligence, respectively.

The Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) agrees that MACC and its officials must be held responsible and has called on the federal government “to take very seriously these findings and to take the immediate appropriate action necessary so as to send a message to all enforcement and investigating agencies that a person in their custody is their utmost responsibility”.

Malaysians who do not accept that that TBH had committed suicide and believed that it was a case of homicide want further investigations to be conducted and his killers to be brought to justice.

[Speech (Pt 1) at the DAP forum “Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission Inquiry Report – Where is the promised truth” at Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Tuesday, 26th July 2011 at 8 pm]

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