KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Bar Council criticised today the coroner’s court for delivering an open verdict in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest, and called the whole process meaningless.
Its president Ragunath Kesavan said the ruling was “indecisive” and had “cast grave doubts on the effectiveness of the inquest mechanism and renders the whole process meaningless”.
Shah Alam magistrate Azmil Muntapha Abas, who was appointed to be the coroner in the inquest, had ruled out homicide yesterday despite accepting the fact that Teoh had suffered injuries before falling to his death at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.
The political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah had been interrogated overnight by anti-graft officers at their state headquarters in the building’s 14th floor.
The 30-year-old was due to register his marriage to primary school teacher Soh Cher Wei the next day.
Teoh also leaves behind a son, Er Jia, born in February last year.
“While it is heartening that the coroner ruled out suicide, the inability to make a definitive finding is unsatisfactory, and leaves many issues unresolved in this matter of great public interest.
“The coroner failed to consider a vital aspect of the matter: Teoh was under the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) when he died, which invariably places the burden on the MACC to account for his death,” Ragunath said in a media statement today.
He added that the coroner should have taken action against the police investigating officer, ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal, for introducing a mystery note as evidence after the inquest was over.
Ragunath said the lawyers’ association welcomed news that the Najib administration will set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) shortly as promised to Teoh’s family.
The lawyer said the RCI should “continue the search for the truth and go beyond the scope of the inquest”.
The Malaysian Insider had earlier today reported Putrajaya had held a meeting and agreed to set up an RCI.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had met with Teoh’s family on July 28 two years ago and assured them “no stone will be left unturned in finding out the real cause of death and, if there is any foul play, action will definitely be taken”.
Najib said the Cabinet has agreed to set up a RCI to probe further if the inquest result is not satisfactory.