Sarbaini verdict: Death by misadventure

(Free Malaysia Today) – The coroner’s court today returned a verdict of misadventure at the inquest into the death of former Selangor Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed.

In delivering his ruling, Coroner Aizatul Akmal Maharani said: “The evidence all supports the theory that this was an unintentional fall from a height.”

Aizatul said he agreed with a local pathologist’s theory that Ahmad Sarbaini slipped and fell.

He also said that he does not think there were any criminal elements as there were no defensive wounds found on the deceased or any signs of a struggle.

He also ruled that Ahmad Sarbaini could not have committed suicide.

Ahmad Sarbaini, 56, was found sprawled on the first floor of the badminton court at the Federal Territory MACC building in Jalan Cochrane, Cheras April 6. He was believed to have fallen from the third floor pantry of the MACC office after returning to the office.

Ahmad Sarbaini, who was attached to the Port Klang Customs Department, was among the 62 officers detained on April 1 in a massive nationwide MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) probe over graft allegations of a “Customs syndicate” laundering billions through tax evasion.

MACC, which said Ahmad Sarbaini had returned to change his statement, had also said an officer had left Ahmad Sarbaini alone in a third-floor room and had returned to find him missing. His body was discovered later.

Following his death, police formed a special task force to investigate and later classified the case as sudden death and later confirmed that no elements of foul play were found.

However, Ahmad Sarbaini’s family and friends have consistently said it was impossible that he had committed suicide or had taken any bribe.

The inquest, from July 4 to Aug 4, sat for 13 days. Among the 34 witnesses who testified were several FT MACC officers, two pathologists, a forensic officer, a number of Customs officers and the late Sarbaini’s widow Masiah @ Maziah Manap.

The inquest, provided for under Sections328 to 341A of the Criminal Procedure Code, is held to determine where, when, how and in what manner Ahmad Sarbaini died. Its three possible findings are: an open verdict, a verdict of misadventure, or death by person or persons unknown. It would not, however, find any criminal liability of any persons.

During the inquest, MACC had submitted that the court should reach the verdict of an accidental death. Its lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had submitted that “the absence of defensive wounds and DNA evidence connecting any MACC officer to the death, clearly indicate that no MACC officer was criminally concerned with regard to the death. There is also not a shred of proof that he was physically abused or mistreated during his detention by MACC.”