Application to cite MACC officer for contempt dismissed

(The Sun)The Coroner’s Court today dismissed an application to have contempt proceedings brought against a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations officer Raub Ghani for lodging a police report on Jan 1 against Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand.

In his decision, Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas who is presiding over an inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, said he based his decision on statements by the attorney-general and inspector-general of police that Pornthip could enter Malaysia without fear of arrest.

“The act by Raub Ghani has to be one that interferes with the cause of justice at this stage. It has to influence the police or the AG into filing charges against or arresting Dr Pornthip (to be regarded as contempt).

However, Azmil noted, the court had been informed by Tan Hock Chuan (counsel assisting the government in the inquest) that no case was found by the AG or IGP.

Raub had lodged the report in Shah Alam over a Suara Keadilan article which quoted sources allegedly stating that  Pornthip had sufficient forensic evidence to conclude that Teoh, who was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam on July 16 last year, had been murdered.

The report alleged that Pornthip had leaked information to the Keadilan media organ.

Teoh was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he had given a statement as a witness on alleged misuse of allocations for state assemblymen in Selangor, at the MACC office located on the 14th floor of the building.

Azmil had earlier heard submissions by Teoh family lawyer Karpal Singh, who argued that Azmil should order Raub to appear before the court to explain why he made the report.

“Raub Ghani should come to this court to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt, as Dr Pornthip had been criminally intimidated and therefore he has interfered in the cause of justice,” said Karpal.

“This officer has dared to criminally intimidate a very important witness who has stated in court that there was an 80% chance it was homicide, which means that Teoh Beng Hock was cruelly murdered,” said Karpal.

“And that is the truth which would be fortified further when she comes to this court to testify on a second post-mortem report,” added Karpal, who pointed out that Suara Keadilan had cited Health Ministry sources in that article, and not Pornthip.

“Raub Ghani, by lodging the report had conducted the criminal intimidation of the Thai pathologist, Pornthip. She was still in the process of giving evidence, specifically for the second post mortem report,” added Karpal.

On Nov 22, pathologists from the Forensics Department of Sungai Buloh Hospital, headed by its Pathology Unit chief  Dr Shahidan Md Noor, had conducted the second post-mortem on Teoh after his body was exhumed the previous day.

The exhumation and post-mortem were witnessed by Prof Peter Vanezis, a pathologist brought in from the United Kingdom by the MACC, and Pornthip.

MACC counsel Datuk Abdul Razak Musa submitted that Raub who lodged the report to “save the dignity of the court” had a right to do so, as he suspected that Pornthip had leaked the report.

Abdul Razak added however that “the A-G decided that there was no element of criminal intimidation, and closed the file”.

However, Gobind Singh Deo, who is also acting for the Teoh family submitted that  Raub himself should explain why he did what he did.

“If he had any respect for his own MACC lawyers, he could have gone to them. He clearly did not do that,” said Gobind.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters outside the court, Karpal said he would not be seeking a revision of the decision at the High Court as he felt the inquest proper should go on.

“I think  the inquest should proceed. It is more important that it proceeds and that Pornthip should come here and the verdict should be given as soon as possible. It is for the good of the family. I don’t want to prolong their trauma,” added Karpal.

The inquest continues on Feb 19 with the testimony of Dr Shahidan.