[Malaysian Insider] MACC unreasonable to hold Teoh overnight, says RCI
Muhammad Shafee, lawyer for MACC, explained to RCI that he couldn't produce the diaries of investigations and the books were destroyed as the notes were typed out into a 119 statement. But how do we know that the notes typed out remain the same and not manipulated? Could the notes be changed quickly, before an inquest takes place? What guarantees are in place to ensure the facts remain the same?
~ By Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — It seemed unreasonable for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to detain Teoh Beng Hock overnight, said the royal panel investigating Teoh’s death today.
Selangor MACC investigation unit head Hairul Ilham Hamzah told the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) today that Teoh was held overnight because of four suspicious-looking invoices found in the latter’s laptop.
“It seems (that) reasons to prolong his release are not reasonable,” said RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong at the inquiry today.
Foong pointed out that the DAP aide had said that copies of the invoices, which could not be found during the MACC overnight interview, may be found in the latter’s office.
“But MACC officers say no need. I can get the (supporting) documents from the Land Office. If (you) think like that, why not release Teoh Beng Hock?” asked Foong.
“In normal MACC operations, we do overnight investigations,” said Hairul.
Teoh, 30, was found dead outside the then-Selangor MACC headquarters in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, on July 16, 2009, after he was questioned overnight by anti-graft officers.
Hairul said Teoh could not be released before the latter’s statement was recorded to prevent the DAP aide from giving an “after-thought” testimony.
“I didn’t want the witness to make up stories,” said Hairul.
“Recording his statement as soon as possible will reduce the likelihood for a witness to do so,” he added.
Hairul, 35, said Teoh was called as a witness in investigations against the latter’s boss, Ean Yong Hian Wah, for suspected abuse of state funds.
Teoh was the political secretary to Ean Yong, the Seri Kembangan assemblyman, when he fell nine floors from the MACC office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam.
Hairul, who has a small moustache and neat short hair, also said he saw Ean Yong at the MACC office at about 11.45 pm on July 15 2009, demanding for Teoh’s release.
“I said before 5am, I’ll release him,” said Hairul.
Hairul added that he had instructed MACC officer Arman Alies to question Teoh on four invoices found in the DAP aide’s laptop and to look for them in four ring files containing Ean Yong’s claims in 2008 and 2009.
“I ordered (Mohd) Ashraf (Mohd Yunus) to help him,” said Hairul.
“During Arman’s briefing, he said the four invoices in the laptop could not be found in the files. (According to him), Teoh said perhaps the documents are in his office and he could bring them,” he added.
Hairul, who has worked in MACC for eight years, said he did not instruct Arman to take Teoh to the DAP aide’s office to look for the documents.
“If projects have been done, I can get the documents from the Land Office,” said Hairul.
Foong appeared flabbergasted at Hairul’s remark.
“By right, you should have gone to the Land Office first. But you have a witness helping you. But you thought, no need for him to go back to office as you can go to the Land Office,” said Foong.
“Wah, your logic is mind-blowing for me,” added the sitting Federal Court judge.
“Unless you had other intentions to detain him?” asked Foong.
“No,” said Hairul.
Conducting officer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud asked why Teoh’s statement could not be taken another day since documents could be checked to verify Ean Yong’s claims.
“If the projects are there, it’s there. If it’s not there, it’s not there,” said Awang Armadajaya.
“Seeing that the interview has been done, I felt we needed to record his statement,” answered Hairul.
But Hairul admitted that there was no law mandating that witness statements needed to be recorded immediately.
“It’s not stated in any law,” said Hairul.
Hairul added that overnight interrogations were normal.
“Do you take into consideration the public?” asked Foong.
Hairul also said there was no MACC procedure to ensure that someone was in charge of noting that Teoh and two other witnesses, Lee Wye Wing and Tan Boon Wah, had stayed overnight at the MACC office.
“The fire escape is always locked,” said Hairul.
“If there’s a fire, then how? If I’m a mouse, I don’t want to sleep there,” said commissioner Professor Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.
The inquiry resumes tomorrow.
Source: The Malaysian Insider