Teoh’s inquest: Narrow scope of police probe slammed

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara Keadilan

The third day of the inquest into the death of Selangor political officer Teoh Beng Hock begins with coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas making a site visit to Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, where Teoh is believed to have fallen from the 14th floor office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Lawyers, court officials and police have gathered at the building to join the inspection which will also include the 5th floor corridor of the adjoining building where Teoh’s body was found sprawled at 1.30pm on July 16.

He had gone to the MACC for questioning as a witness into a probe on alleged misuse of state funds by several Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen. MACC officers interrogated him from 5pm on July 15, and according to them, they released him at 3.45am the next day.

Apart from Azmil, police investigating officer ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal were also at the scene together with DPP Tan Hock Chuan and lawyers representing the Teoh family, the Selangor state government and the Bar Council.

Police probe only asked if he fell or jumped, did not check for foul play


At a press conference held after the inspection, lawyer for the Selangor government Malik Imtiaz said the window at the 14th  window – where Beng Hock is widely believed to have been ejected – was just above waist height and from there, he could see where Teoh’s body was found.

“The window could be opened very wide,” said Malik. “But nothing is conclusive yet. The purpose of this visit is to allow the coroner and ourselves to visualise the scene. But it doesn’t take us any closer to an answer.”

Gobind Singh Deo, lawyer for the Teoh family, said police had based their entire investigation on the premise that Teoh either fell to his death or committed suicide.

“When the witnesses come forward, they are bound by police instructions to either say ‘yes or no’ on whether the deceased fell or committed suicide.

“They are not looking at the theory that Teoh may have been murdered or pushed off the building. We will pursue this theory. If need be, we will put a request to the coroner to ask police to widen the scope.”

Gobind added that the visit to the scene of death had raised at least two questions.

“We have asked the police to conduct further investigation in the areas we thought were significant. So the police have started work on that,” he said, declining to give further details.

The inquest has been adjourned to Monday. The DPP is expected to call to the stand three pathologists.

Neutrality in question after toxicology and DNA tests

On Wednesday, cross-examination of expert witnesses including chemist Zairaha Awang and DNA scientist Dr Seah Lay Hong revealed that the toxicology and DNA reports ordered by the police were limited in specifications.

It is not clear if this was intentional but it must be flagged out as there is already deep public misgiving as to the will of the police to conduct an independent and fair probe.

Like the MACC, the police and even courts have come under heavy fire, losing the trust of the Malaysian public especially in the aftermath of the Perak political crisis sprung by Prime Minister Najib Razak in February.

To cling to power in the northwestern state, Najib openly pushed the federal agencies into supporting his political agenda, resulting in an incredulous string of court rulings that have since become the talk of the nation and sparking the huge plunge in public confidence for the current Umno-BN system of governance.

Yesterday, Zairaha – a government chemist with 12 years experience – told the inquest that she had received samples of stomach content, blood and urine from the Klang General Hospital on July 21. She said she was asked to do a toxicology report to determine if there were poisonous or dangerous substances in the samples. Her lab analysis showed found no traces of alcohol or common prescription drugs.

But she did not perform a vital check – an adrenaline test to measure the stress levels in Teoh. Because he is believed to have fallen – either from being pushed or through suicide – the stress levels in his system can provide an enormous clue as to what he was going through prior to death.

This test was not conducted because the police did not request for it, Zairaha told the court.

No DNA match because swabs were only taken from certain areas


Dr Seah, also from the Chemistry Dept but specializing in DNA, told the court she was instructed to take swabs only from certain areas of Teoh’s clothing.

From his jacket and a tear region on his belt, she found DNA of at least two other males. DNA from 157 individuals, including cleaners, guards & MACC officers, were also tested for match. But although she did not find any match, she admitted the results did not absolve any of them from having had a hand in Beng Hock’s death.

This was because the police only asked her to swab certain areas for DNA, thereby limiting the scope of her investigation.

During cross-examination by Gobind, she agreed that it was possible the tear in Beng Hock’s belt was caused by someone dangling him from a window. When the belt snapped, he plunged to his death.

Gobind: Do you also say that it’s fair that this man was being held from a high building by the belt and it snapped? Is that a possibility?

Dr Seah: It is speculative but it is one of the many possibilities.