SHAH ALAM, Jan 31 — Teoh Beng Hock’s kin is baffled by the Attorney-General’s insistence on holding two separate proceedings into his death at the same time, the family lawyer said today.
Gobind Singh Deo, who has been representing the Teohs in court from Day One, questioned the A-G’s motive in urging for a review of the coroner’s open verdict in the young political aide’s death even though the prime minister has announced a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the same case.
“Is the RCI allowed to take a different position in the High Court,” Gobind raised at a news conference today.
“We can’t have separate findings in the RCI and in the High Court revision,” he said, and called on the A-G to withdraw the court application and continue with the RCI proceedings to avoid confusion later on.
Senior government lawyer Dzulkifli Ahmad had earlier said in court he had received instructions from the A-G to go ahead with the review application in the High Court here despite the RCI’s much-widened scope to also look into the controversial circumstances surrounding Teoh’s fatal plunge from a high-rise office complex housing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) state headquarters two years ago.
Dzulkifli told reporters it was because the A-G had filed for a revision of the open verdict before the RCI was set up and its scope and terms of reference expanded.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had initially announced the RCI would only investigate the MACC’s procedures for breaching human rights but later bowed down to public pressure to include Teoh’s death.
The A-G was reported to be unhappy with the January 5 open verdict and had filed for the case to be reviewed two days later.
“Our stand is there can’t be an open verdict… We have written a letter stating our stand but I can’t disclose it now,” Dzulkifli said when asked if the A-G wanted a verdict of suicide or homicide.
Gobind challenged the government lawyer’s statement.
“I was informed in open court they are pushing for suicide,” he told reporters, but sidestepped when pressed further on when the deputy public prosecutor had told him so.
The Teoh family are equally unhappy with the open verdict and have been pushing for it to be changed to homicide, based on their Thai forensic expert’s testimony.
Thailand’s top pathologist, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, had testified in the inquest that Teoh’s death was likely a homicide, pointing to a neck injury that suggested he had been strangled before falling out of a window.
Gobind said he will be writing a letter to be allowed to sit in on the RCI’s first meeting to find out the details of its scope of investigation and if they would overlap with the court review.
The RCI, led by Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong, will sit for the first time on February 14.
High Court judge Datuk Wira Mohtarudin Baki fixed February 17 to mention the review case again.