A witness testifying at the inquest into the death of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim told the Coroner’s Court here that he saw a group of rowdy rioters gather around the fireman as he lay on the ground after being hit by a fire truck.
But Pakistani national Mohsin Budd, who yesterday identified this group as mostly Indians carrying wooden sticks and plastic bottles, told the court today that he did not know what happened at the scene.
Mohsin, the 20th witness in the inquest, said the group had gathered along Jalan Usaha between USJ 16 and USJ 17 after Adib was pinned by an emergency medical rescue service (EMRS) van on Nov 27 last year.
He told coroner Rafiah Mohamad that from where he was standing at the time – inside a residential area in USJ 17 – he did not know what was happening, only that it was noisy.
Speaking in Punjabi, Mohsin said he had been able to make out several people holding plastic bottles and making a lot of noise.
However, he could not see what was happening as his view was blocked by the crowd which descended on the street near the Seafield temple from the other end of the road across the highway, after setting fire to a car and overturning it.
Mohsin, who works as an air conditioner technician, also said he was of the opinion that the EMRS van had run over Adib after being moved by a reversing fire rescue tender (FRT) truck.
When asked to elaborate, though, he acknowledged that this was an assumption on his part.
He added that he had not seen which part of Adib’s body was pinned by the EMRS, only that he was certain of the way the fireman had fallen after being squeezed between the EMRS and a parked car.
“He fell like he was hugging himself,” he said in his testimony which was translated into Malay by a Punjabi court interpreter.
Yesterday, Mohsin who lives in USJ 11 and had been at the scene to visit his friend, a security guard in a USJ 17 residential area, said he saw someone in fireman’s pants getting squeezed by a fire truck that day.
He later identified the person as Adib, through a court clerk who helped translate his testimony into Malay.
Mohsin said then that when the group of Indians approached the FRT shortly after 1am on Nov 27, Adib, who was unable to re-enter the EMRS vehicle, had wanted to flee from them.
“He saw that big group approaching where he was. And because the fireman in the middle closed the sliding door and went inside quickly, this person could not enter the van. So he was ready to run to the Caltex station nearby,” he said.
Then, he said, the FRT had backed into the EMRS, pushing it backwards as the driver attempted to get away from the crowd.
He said the EMRS hit the fireman who was next to its left rear tyre and squeezed him between cars on the side of the road. This pinned him momentarily against the cars, following which he fell down.
Speaking today, Mohsin said Adib had still been standing next to the left rear tyre of the EMRS van when the FRT bumped into it. The EMRS later made a 180-degree turn.
It was after this that Adib fell, he said, likely due to the impact of the hit.
He added that he had been able to see this from where he was, inside the USJ 17 area, as the cars blocking his view were “not so high”. Yesterday, he also said that the road was well-lit at the time.
In a video later shown to the court, Mohsin said he could not see the fireman whom he identified as Adib but maintained his testimony of what he saw.
The inquest into Adib’s death was called by the government this year amid conflicting claims on how he had died.
Adib, 24, was part of the EMRS team sent from the Subang Jaya fire and rescue station to the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple on Nov 27.
He is said to have been attacked there and succumbed to his injuries at the National Heart Institute on Dec 17. Medical witnesses said he died due to multiple organ failure.
Today is the 14th day of the inquest. Proceedings continue this afternoon when Mohsin will take the stand again.
He was questioned today by conducting officer and deputy public prosecutor Hamdan Hamzah, who is part of a three-member team from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
He was also questioned by a lawyer holding a watching brief for Adib’s family, Kamaruzaman A Wahab, and Syazlin Mansor who is representing the housing and local government, Adib’s family, and the fire and rescue department. – FMT
Related report: Mar 19, Adib Inquest: Witness Says Saw Someone in Fireman’s Pants Hit by EMRS Vehicle