Updated 5:40pm, 29 July 2009
SHAH ALAM, 29 July 2009: The inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock has been adjourned to 5 Aug.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas adjourned the hearing to enable lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (representing Teoh’s family), lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (representing the Selangor government) and the Bar Council to study new documents submitted this morning by lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, who is assisting the inquest.
The documents submitted included photographs of the location where the incident took place, the autopsy report, visuals of the closed-circuit TV (CCTV) recording, and the chemist’s report. However, notes on the testimonies of witnesses were not submitted following objections from Tan.
Gobind had requested for the inquest to be adjourned following Tan’s failure to supply the documents to him. Gobind said he needed at least 10 days to study all the reports and to refer to other experts, especially on the autopsy report and the DNA.
“Investigations into the case had just been completed. This is not a joke. [We need] at least 10 days because we have to make preparation. This is a national issue which is drawing attention. Many people are waiting … It is not aimed at delaying the proceedings,” Gobind said.
He questioned how the proceedings could be held so soon when investigations had only been completed last night, and there were still several documents that had not been submitted.
Tan, however, stressed that his side was ready for the hearing. He had earlier told the court that he had received permission to represent the Malaysian government through the Attorney-General’s chambers, and would be assisted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Idham Abdul Ghani and two other lawyers.
GobindHe said written permission had been sent to him two days ago.
The court allowed Gobind to hold a watching brief for Teoh’s family and to participate in the inquiry. The same applied to Malik, who held a watching brief for the Selangor government.
However, the Bar Council’s representative, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, was allowed to hold a watching brief for the council but could only pose questions to the witnesses through the court.
Teoh, 30, political aide to one of the Selangor executive councillors, was found dead on the fifth floor Plaza Masalam, which houses the Selangor office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in Shah Alam, where he had been called up to give statements in an investigation on an alleged misappropriation of the Selangor State government funds.
The inquest, which began at 9:20am today, had been set for 15 days, and would call 77 witnesses, including 28 MACC officers, chemists and pathologists, as well as Teoh’s close friends.
The precinct and public gallery of the Magistrate’s Court here were packed with nearly 200 media representatives, lawyers, politicians, and members of the public. The media had gathered as early as 5:30am, but only 40 were given passes at 7:45am and allowed to enter at 8:30am.
Also present were Teoh’s father Leong Hwee, brother Meng Kee, sister Lee Lan, and fiancee Soh Cher Wei. Yesterday, Teoh’s family had met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to request widening the scope of the inquiry to include investigations into the cause of Teoh’s death, on top of the circumstances and method of questioning used by the MACC.
Speaking to reporters outside the court today, Lee Lan said her family appreciated the prime minister having met them, but felt that the cause of her brother’s death should be determined by the royal commission.
Meanwhile, DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang also said the inquest was not suitable as it had limited scope to determine Teoh’s death.
“Public confidence is involved and public confidence demands a royal commission of inquiry. So I call for the prime minister, attorney general and the cabinet to respect the wishes of the family by suspending the inquest and establishing a royal commission to find out the cause of Teoh’s death,” he said. — Bernama