Adib’s partner unaware of how Adib went missing from the van.
It was a chaotic scene on the night fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim was injured in the line of duty during a riot at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Seafield, Subang Jaya, an inquest to determine the cause of his death heard.
Muhammad Adib’s colleague, Md Elliza Mohd Noor, who was the driver of the fire engine that day, said that the Fire and Rescue Department’s vehicle was approached by a group of about 50 men as soon as the personnel arrived at the scene in the early morning of Nov 27 last year.
“They were shouting, ‘Don’t put out the fire, bomba (firefighters), go back, don’t put it out,” said Elliza.
“They said this many times, accompanied by hand signals asking us to leave,” he added.
Speaking from the witness box on the first day of the inquest at the Shah Alam Sessions Court on Monday (Feb 11), Elliza said that the group of men were carrying objects such as bricks and helmets.
One man was carrying a long steel object, which he then used to hit the windshield of the fire engine, he added.
“After that, the bricks and helmets came raining upon the windshield,” Elliza said.
When asked by DPP Hamdan Hamzah, who was leading a three-member team from the Attorney General’s Chambers, about how he felt at that time, Elliza said that he was scared.
“I was very scared (takut sekali),” he said, adding that he was afraid that the windshield would shatter and the objects would injure the occupants of the fire engine.
“After the windscreen cracked, I was scared. I immediately reversed the vehicle,” said Elliza to questions from deputy public prosecutor Hamdan Hamzah, who is the inquest coordinating officer.
Elliza heard a knock when he reversed while trying to escape the mob, but did not know what he had hit.
Subang Jaya traffic police chief Mohd Nasir Rahman said the truck was surrounded when he arrived at the scene.
He estimated there were 3,500 to 5,000 people, believed to be Indians, who had gathered in front of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple.
“I saw people throwing objects at the fire engine,” he said.
He, however, said that he was unable to see what was happening to the Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) van behind the fire engine due to insufficient lighting.
“After an object was thrown at the fire truck, smashing its front windscreen, the driver reversed the vehicle. He then went in front, reversing again before leaving the scene,” Nasir said.
“When the truck reversed, it hit an EMRS vehicle behind it,” he added
Nasir said he was standing some 80m to 100m from where both the fire truck and EMRS vehicle were.
“I saw the truck being attacked, but I didn’t see any firemen being beaten up.
“I also did not see any fire personnel exiting the truck and EMRS vehicle.”
Nasir said he immediately contacted his command centre on the attack on the fire truck.
“Another officer and I tried to approach the crowd but there were too many people around. We tried to enter the area but due to safety factors and since we were not equipped to handle the matter, we didn’t go in.”
EMRS van driver Ahmad Shahril Othman testified that Adib was in the vehicle with him when a fire engine reversed into them during riots at a temple.
He said both of the vehicles were attacked by a mob following the collision.
However, Shahril said he was still assessing the situation with Adib during these events that happened on the early morning of November 27 last year.
“Adib was in the vehicle. One hand was on the dashboard and the other on the armrest. He was looking in front (at the commotion).
“He was sitting next to me. I was still communicating with him and was looking at the officer who step out of the FRT to put out the fire,” he said.
The officer Shahril was referring to was fireman Mohd Hazim Mohd Rahimi, 31, who stepped out of the fire engine to extinguish a burning car.
Hazim was part of a seven-man FRT team, along with EMRS officers Shahril and Adib, who responded to a distress call on a burning car near the Sri Maha Mariamman.
“I saw that before he (Hazim) managed to take out the hose reel, he was attacked.
“After that, I did not see him anymore. I do not know where he went,” said Shahril.
Both vehicles eventually left the scene and headed towards the USJ8 police station.
Upon arrival, Elliza said he was alerted to Shahril informing his supervising officer that Adib was no longer in the EMRS van.
“We then tried to call Adib several times, but nobody picked up.
“After about 15 to 20 minutes later, we received a call (on Adib’s phone) and the person told us that Adib is being taken to SJMC (Sime Darby Medical Centre),” said Elliza, adding that their team was immediately instructed to head to the hospital.
Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Rofiah Mohamad sits as coroner.
Apart from Hamdan and his team, others present were lawyers for Adib’s family, a lawyer for the Housing and Local Government Ministry, and lawyers from human rights organisation Suhakam and the Bar Council.
Continuing his testimony today, Shahril said he was unaware of how Adib had gone missing from the EMRS van on the night of the riot.
He said he was focused on the mob outside the van that included at least three individuals who knocked on his window and attempted to force open his unlocked door.
“At that point, I did not notice him (Adib) anymore. I was focused (to my right) because my window was knocked and they tried to open my door.
“With one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on my door, I was facing my window with my back against Adib,” said Shahril.
He described the three individuals closest to his window as wearing helmets, and he was only able to identify them as “dark silhouettes.”
Shahril repeatedly insisted that he was not aware of what had happened to Adib behind his back and that he only heard loud banging sounds on the EMRS van amid other noises outside.
He told the inquest that the fire truck reversing and knocking into his van forced him to turn the vehicle around.
The entire incident from the moment the fire truck reversed had occurred in less than one minute, he said.
“When my van turned towards the fire truck on its left, I saw Adib was no longer inside, and the (EMRS van) door was closed,” he said.
Adib was critically injured when he and his team from the Subang Jaya fire station responded to an emergency at the at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple where riots happened on Nov 27.
He was taken to Subang Jaya Medical Centre before being transferred to the National Heart Institute (IJN) for further treatment.
He died on Dec 17 at 9.41pm at IJN.