Teoh’s inquest is biggest case

The Attorney-General’s team is being led by criminal lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, not a deputy public prosecutor and this drew criticism from DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

Malaysian Mirror

The inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock at the Magistrate's Court here has been postponed to Aug 5 at the request of lawyers representing the family and the Selangor Government.

The inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock began at 9.15 this morning with coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas calling the court to order instructing lawyers acting for the various parties to make their requests.

With so many witnesses being called and the mounting controversy surrounding Teoh's death, the inquest could well be the nation's biggest case to date.

gobind singh deo 2.jpgCoroner Azmil grants “interested party” status to those holding a watching brief – Gobind Singh Deo (left), Karpal Singh (who is not present in court today) and Sankara Nair for the family and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar for the Selangor government. Such grant of status allows them to question witnesses.

While Tan Hock Chuan, acting for the attorney-general, had no objections, nevertheless he said the lawyers holding a watching brief for the Bar Council did not fall within the provisions to be granted such a status.

The Bar Council assured the coroner there may be questions they would want to ask the witnesses and assured him all these questions would be relevant.

The first application made by Gobind acting for the family was for a postponement of the inquest, giving several grounds:

He said Teoh's family wants the prime minister to set up the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh’s death noting that the Cabinet meets today and lawyers representing the family want documents including pathologist’s reports.

Dealing with the application

Gobind explained that a royal commission has a wider scope of powers to deal with anything that may be uncovered as investigation evidence is presented. That the inquest should be delayed till the Cabinet at its weekly meeting has time to consider and decide on setting a date for the Royal Commission per the family’s request.

He questioned the government’s hurry over the inquest as documents such as the DNA report on the post mortem of the body has to be studied by the experts they engage for examination purposes.

Finally, he put it for the record that the family of Teoh is involved in the inquest under protest

Meanwhile, Tan explained that as the inquiry is an inquest and not a trial, there was no obligation on their part to share the documents put forth by the A-G's team. As a gesture of goodwill, he said the state was willing to provide the documents except witnesses' statements to the lawyers.

Tan stated the state is ready to proceed with the Inquiry but he does not object to a postponement.

The coroner then adjourned the Inquest for 30 minutes to consider the request for a postponement at 10.30am.

The witness list contains 90 names called to testify according to police records of the ongoing inquest. More than 60 witnesses were registered outside  the Magistrate's Court this morning.

teoh-beng-hock-3.pngThe Star reported that the media led the way by registering at 7.30am obtaining the passes handed out at about 7.50am. Family members of Teoh Beng Hock arrived at about 8.20am on Wednesday as the inquest into the political aide’s death began at the Magistrate's Court here.

The Attorney-General’s team is being led by criminal lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, not a deputy public prosecutor and this drew criticism from DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

Background to events leading to inquest

Others taking part in the Inquest include Sankara Nair and Gobind Singh Deo (holding a watching brief for the family), Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M Manoharan in the lists as a witness, state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who has been appointed by Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim to hold a watching brief for the state government..

The Inquest carried on despite many parties questioning its effectiveness and calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to determine the cause of Teoh’s death.

On expert advice, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced the inquest to probe his death and a Royal Commission of Inquiry to assess the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigative procedures in regard to Teoh. The Inquest will proceed for 15 days with 28 MACC and several journalists among the 90 witnesses who will appear before the Coroner.

Among the others are Teoh’s fiancee Soh Cher Wei, three pathologists from University Malaya Medical Centre and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital and three chemists besides three to four security guards.

Teoh, 30, was found dead on July 16 at Plaza Masalam the morning after he was interviewed for 10 hours by MACC, which has its state office on the 14th floor of the building.

Teoh, who was the political secretary to Selangor exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah, was reported to be a witness in the investigation into the alleged abuse of constituency development funds by several Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state assemblymen. Reports said Teoh was released after his statement was recorded but asked to sleep on the sofa at the office. His death was believed to have taken place between 6am and 8am on July 16.