Teoh Inquiry: Commission ready for Monday hearing

Posted: February 14, 2011 in News
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source : Free Malaysia Today

VIDEO INSIDE

KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock held its last meeting today to discuss several issues before hearing proper begins on Monday.

The commission’s secretary Saripuddin Kasim said three main issues were discussed during the meeting which went on for about three hours at the Jalan Duta courts complex here this afternoon.

“Firstly, we went through the administrative and logistive aspects of this inquiry, including visiting the courtroom (the biggest in the court) where we’ll be holding the inquiry,” he said.

Saripuddin said most matters will be formally addressed on Monday, including the application by Karpal Singh and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar to represent Teoh’s family and the Selangor government respectively during the hearing.

The lawyers have previously written letters to the inquiry secretariat seeking permission to be allowed to act for the family and the state government respectively and have the right to cross-examine witnesses.

“We were also briefed by the conducting officers on the progress of the preparations so far and we are satisfied,” said Saripuddin, who is also the director-general of the Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“We know this case is of public concern and we will do our best,” he said, adding that the hearing will be held at the third floor of the court complex at 9am on Monday.

Seeking revision

Earlier, the commission members also met with Teoh’s sister Lee Lan and her lawyers Karpal and Gobind Singh Deo.

During the informal meeting which lasted 15 minutes, concerns were raised over a move to seek a revision of the coroner’s findings. The case is pending.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail is seeking a review of the coroner’s ruling. On Jan 5, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas delivered an open verdict, saying that Teoh’s death was neither suicide nor homicide.

Karpal said that there should not be a revision and an inquiry on the same matter concurrently.

Gobind has asked Gani to withdraw the application to avoid confusion. High Court judge Mohtarudin Baki will mention the revision case on Feb 17.

“We can’t go on with both. There will be conflict in the findings later on. We must proceed on only one…,” Gobind said.

Other major issues brought up at the informal meeting included the dates of the inquiry hearing and the list of witnesses.

Gobind said that the dates set by the commission, Feb 14 to April 25, were not suitable as Karpal, Malik and himself already have cases on those dates.

“The dates were fixed without us being present and we’re hoping that could be readjusted. There is no point having a royal commission that cannot proceed if other people are engaged elsewhere.

“If you want to have a royal commission, let’s doing it properly and not in haste,” he said.

Gobind added that a list of witnesses have been sought and he expected to be furnished with one before the hearing commenced.

“We’re also concerned about witnesses that were brought in by the family, for example Dr Pornthip (Rojanasunand),” Gobind said, adding that everything should be clearer by Monday.

He also said that he has not been informed on how the inquiry will conduct its investigation.

“We are also unsure if it would be a re-hearing or (a case of) going through the transcripts. We will only know by Monday whether we will be allowed to cross-examine,” he said.

He added that he believed this would be the last meeting before hearing begins.

“The meeting today was more of an administrative hearing so that the parties, including Teo’s family, can go before the commissioners to voice their concerns,” said Gobind.

‘Need time to think’

Initially, Lee Lan and her lawyers were not called to attend the meeting between the commission panellists and the Attorney-General’s representatives, but they were later invited.

Approached by reporters, Lee Lan looked confused, saying that she needed more time to think. She declined to speak about today’s meeting.

“I will probably issue a statement later,” she said.

Last month, Federal Court judge James Foong was appointed to head the commission to look into the cause of Teoh’s death and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) interrogation procedures.

The commission’s terms of reference are:

  • To look into whether or not, there was any impropriety in the conduct of the examination of Teoh in the course of an investigation into a Shah Alam report by the MACC, in relation to its standing orders and practices, and to recommend any appropriate action, where necessary; and,
  • To enquire into Teoh’s death and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death.

The other four members of the commission are former federal judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, ex-Court of Appeal judge T Selventhiranathan, Penang Hospital’s senior consultant in forensic pathology Bhupinder Singh and Cyberjaya University College of Medical Science’s dean and consultant forensic psychiatrist Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.

The five are expected to draw up a list of witnesses to be called, among other things.

The inquiry is scheduled to start on Feb 14 and end on April 25, when the final report will be handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin. The King will then decide the next course of action.

The conducting officers are senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh and deputy public prosecutors Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa.

Teoh, the DAP political aide to Selangor executive councillor and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16 last year on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam here.

Teoh, then 30, died hours after he was interrogated overnight by the MACC at the Selangor MACC office located on the 14th floor of the same building. He was a witness in the alleged misuse of Selangor government allocations.

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