[TBH@Royal Commision] Did MACC officer 'tamper' with investigation diaries?
There are inconsistencies in the investigation diaries of a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigator, the royal commission of inquiry investigating the death of Teoh Beng Hock was told.
Bar Council lawyer Edmund Bon (left), who questioned MACC assistant enforcement officer Arman Alies, suggested that the discrepancies revealed pertaining to the diaries today “could be tantamount to tampering with official documents”.
Arman said he had prepared two investigation diaries on his interview with Teoh, held on July 15, 2009, the day before the latter was found dead.
Teoh, political aide to DAP's Seri Kembangan assemblyperson Ean Yong Hian Wah, was interrogated as a witness by the Selangor MACC about alleged misuse of state funds by his employer.
Arman, the enforcement officer who took down Teoh's testimony, said he had only filed his investigation notes on that interview about three days after it took place.
"The police had taken my statement (on Teoh's death) and only after that did I write my diary about the conversations with him. (I recorded it) either during the night of July 18 or on the morning of the 19th,” said Arman.
The second investigation diary, meanwhile, was typed more than a year after the interview with Teoh, and was a far “more detailed diary with specifications”, the inquiry was informed.
It is required of MACC enforcement officers to file investigation diaries in order to keep track of their progress in a case.
This prompted Bon to ask Arman whether he still kept the soft copy of the first investigation diary he had compiled.“I'm not sure if I still have a soft copy because my laptop was reformatted about eight months ago due to a virus attack.
He said he had printed a copy to give it to “someone from the MACC management long after writing it, but can't remember who or when”.
Bon pressed him on this, saying: "This is an important case, Teoh Beng Hock is dead. What happened to the (first) diary? As an investigator, you (must) know that the chain of evidence is important.”
Arman initially kept quiet. He then said that one copy of the diary was printed and given to the MACC complaints committee for the purpose of its internal inquiry.
However, he had failed to make a copy for himself before his laptop became corrupted.
Second diary 'for own keeping'
Arman also testified that he had created a second investigative diary “for his own keeping and reference” last August.
This was tendered to the royal panel and scrutinised by Bon because of several “additions and discrepancies”.
Quizzed on how he managed to recall the details of the interview with Teoh without notes in hand, Arman said: “I reconstructed half of the second investigation diary from memory and I had a copy of some pages from the printout of the first diary I had submitted to the internal inquiry.”
“Investigation diaries are one's representative to his employer, society and courts. They are also official secret documents,” Bon reminded Arman.
The second 'detailed' diary, said Bon, contains about seven differences compared to entries in the first diary.
Bon: In the first diary, you use the word 'requested' (in asking MACC investigations unit head) Hairul (Ilham Hamzah) to get Teoh to assist. In the second, you used 'suggested'.
Arman said it was Hairul's decision to interview Teoh.
Bon: In the second diary, you jotted down that 'no force was used on Teoh. He kept silent a lot. He was writing in a black book during interview', but this was not mentioned in the first.
Arman: I prepared the second diary after I submitted (the first) to the internal inquiry. I wrote (more details) because I was afraid I would forget.
Bon: This is your statement, you remember more specific details (Of what took place during the interview) seven months ago, but not several days after.
Arman: I wrote the second diary after MACC's internal inquiry, so I wrote it with more detail to avoid tohmahan (accusations).
Inquiry head James Foong interjected to ask Arman: Your memory is like this - the later, the better?”
Said Arman: “I took into account the need for details which I didn't put in the first diary.”
Commissioner T Selventhiranathan cornered Arman on another point, where the latter had specifically mentioned that no force was used on Teoh.
"Does this (sentence) than imply that force can be used and you're in the (position) to do so, but it wasn't the case in Teoh's matter?"
Arman reiterated that he only wrote his second diary to avoid accusations of force being levelled at him.
This prompted Bon to apply to the commission to consider a private investigator to take a statement from Arman on discrepancies between both investigation diaries.
Foong asked what would be achieved by the exercise but gave an assurance that the commission would consider the application.
The commission chief asked what would they instruct the private eye to probe into, “Will it be to find that there have been any tampering? And if he does what do we do? Can we write to the Attorney-General's Chambers to take the next course of action?”
Bon explained that the issue can be resolved upon the investigations.
However, the commission did not make a decision on the lawyer's application when the inquiry resumed after lunch and Foong only said that “it will be dealt with at another time”.
However, MACC lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Bon's application was an exercise in “futility as cross-examination by the commission and lawyers would be enough”.