Teoh Beng Hock inquest: MACC officer accused of torturing witnesses, suspects

Gobind then produced a police report which accused Ashraf of torturing a witness during an interrogation, saying that the witness would be brought to court to testify. 

by Tan Yi Liang, The Sun Daily

Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus

SHAH ALAM (Aug 28, 2009): The inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock got heated up today when a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor branch officer was accused of torturing witnesses and suspects.

The allegation by Gobind Singh Deo, the lawyer for Teoh's family, was however denied by the officer, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus, the inquest's 19th witness.

He also denied allegations by Gobind that he was being investigated over a police report that torture was used to extract statements at the Selangor MACC office.
Gobind then produced a police report which accused Ashraf of torturing a witness during an interrogation, saying that the witness would be brought to court to testify.

"This report details how the torture is done, how they physically and psychologically break you down, and when we bring this witness to testify, he will identify these officers and how it is done," said Gobind, who presented a copy of the report to Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas. The complainant was not named.

At this point, the counsel assisting the government, Tan Hock Chuan asked for Azmil to advise Ashraf of his rights in light of the evidence within the statement.

Tan said Gobind has the right to pursue this line, although it does not relate to this case, but that to be fair to the witness, he should be told that he can refuse to answer any question that incriminates himself, and it is his right to appoint a lawyer before Gobind pursues this line of questioning further.

Azmil, who then advised Ashraf of his right to decline questions and to seek counsel before answering questions on the report, then asked Gobind to outline the gist of the reports.

 "I have a police report detailing how the witness was tortured by MACC officials on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam. Among the allegations were that officers took turns to slap the witness, blindfolding them, wrapping an iron bar to hit the stomach and buttocks, stripping, whipping of the genitals and soles of feet, and other abuse to the genitals," said Gobind.

He said there were more than one police report but no action was taken as "the police also feared the MACC".

This was objected to by MACC counsel Abdul Razak Musa, who questioned the relevance of the report to the inquest.

"This diverts the focus of the inquest, and there is no evidence to prove the claims," said Abdul Razak, who was countered by Selangor government counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who said the two coroners, Dr Khairul Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Samberkar, had not ruled out the possibility that Teoh was tortured prior to his death.

"This report proves that torture does happen and testing this report will prove that the last three witnesses are lying," added Malik.
Azmil allowed the request, but directed that Gobind stick to one report to keep the focus on the inquest.

"A lot of possibilities were raised by Dr Khairul in his testimony, but possibilities remain. We need to keep the scope narrow, and if the allegations are the same, we can stick to one report. If you want to test that theory, we can restrict it to one report," said Azmil.