Report: More Police Inconsistencies Highlighted as Suhakam Ends Missing Persons Inquiry

380

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) public hearing on a series of missing persons cases has come to a close today after it highlighted more inconsistencies in police testimonies.

Inconsistencies:

  • Police officer Hazril said no license plates found at house of suspected smuggler while ex-IGP Khalid insisted license plate of Raymond Koh’s car registration number was recovered
  • Bukit Aman CID deputy director commissioner Huzir Mohamed previously testified he and investigating officer Supari had gone to the raided house but Hazril maintained no one from Bukit Aman went to the  house
  • Address listed on Hazril’s search list of house raided wrong – different from correct address in press release by then Kedah police chief Asri 
  • Khald previously said building in picture found in house raid believed to be Koh’s house but picture showed a terrace house while Koh lived in a condominium

The last two witnesses to take the stand in the hearing were Special Taskforce on Organised Crime (Stafoc) operations superintendent Hazril Kamis and former Kedah police chief Asri Yusoff, who testified on a shootout that killed a suspected smuggler linked to pastor Raymond Koh’s abduction and the events leading to a police press release on the incident.

Hazril told the inquiry that he and his team encountered the suspect while acting on a tip-off on smuggling activities. The shootout that ensued killed the suspect (named “Fauzi”) on the spot. Hazril said a semi-automatic pistol was recovered near the body

The incident occurred sometime between 4am and 5am in Baling on June 17 last year, he said. He added that he was later told by the Kedah police forensics team that they found an address while combing through the scene of the shootout.

He said his team then searched the address at Kampung Selarong, Perak, and found a woman believed to be the suspect’s wife.

He said he and his team uncovered and seized several suspicious items, including a pipe bomb.

Upon questioning by the Koh family’s lawyer, Jerald Gomez, Hazril insisted that no other police units came to the house apart from the Kedah police’s forensics unit and a bomb disposal unit. He said he had carted off all seized items to the Pengkalan Hulu district police headquarters that evening.

These were handed to a narcotics officer whom he identified as “Insp Afandi” and a CID officer “Insp Tan”, and no one else, he said.

The seized items also included five printouts: a picture of a terraced house, a picture of a signboard that reads “Prima 16”, two pictures of a car bearing the license plate ST 5515 D, and a picture Hazril described as “believed to be a Chinese man that looks like Raymond Koh”.

Hazril said all findings were reported to Bukit Aman CID deputy director commissioner Huzir Mohamed by phone while he was still at the house in Kampung Selarong, including the presence of the bomb and the pictured person’s resemblance to the missing pastor.

He said he recognised Koh from pictures that had been circulating in social media. Upon questioning, Hazril insisted that no physical license plates were found at the house.

Previously on Oct 30 last year, former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar testified to Suhakam that the first team to search the house after the shootout did not find the items suspicious as it did not relate to their investigation. Hence, the items were not seized then.

Instead, a second team revisited the crime scene a day or two after the first search and made the connection, and seized the items.

Asri Yusoff (L) and Khalid Abu Bakar.

Khalid had also insisted that the team had recovered the physical car plate ST 5515 D, rather than a picture of a car bearing those plates. The number is that of the licence plate of the car Koh was driving when he was abducted on Feb 13 last year.

Jerald also disputed the veracity of the list of items Hazril seized. He said there is variation in the handwriting especially on whether the number “7” is dashed in the middle, and claimed that the list had been prepared by someone other than Hazril.

Hazril denied this, and attributed the reason for the differing versions for the number to fatigue after several days on operation, and differences in writing surfaces.

In particular, he said there were no tables at the house in Kampung Selarong where the first list was prepared. He then prepared separate lists for the Pengkalan Hulu police once he arrived at the police station where a desk was available.

The new list separates the exhibits depending on whether it was intended for a narcotic or criminal investigation, he said, to avoid legal complications in the future.

Meanwhile, Huzir had previously testified to the inquiry on Sept 7 that he had personally gone to the house in Kampung Selarong on the day of the shooting, while it was still cordoned off.

Huzir had also claimed that the investigating officer probing Koh’s disappearance, Supari Mohammad, had also gone to the house and arrived after he did.

Hazril maintained that no one from Bukit Aman went to the house, and he had only met Supari at the Pengkalan Kubu district police headquarters when Huzir introduced Supari to him at a briefing later that day.

Jerald also disputed the accuracy of the address listed on Hazril’s search list, saying that it was wrong. Hazril denied this.

Later during the inquiry after Hazril had been dismissed, Jerald showed that a June 18, 2017 press release by then Kedah police chief Asri on the shootout provided an address with a different house number.

He also recalled Koh’s wife Susanna Liew as a witness. Liew testified that she and two others had gone to Kampung Selarong on Nov 8 in a failed bid to look up the address listed on Hazril’s search list.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Instead, she said when she asked local villagers about suspect Fauzi’s house, she was led to an address that matched the one given in Asri’s press release.

She said she met Fauzi’s mother there, who purportedly told her this was the same house raided by the police last year. However, she said it had since been renovated into a bungalow with government help.

The inquiry panel’s chairperson Mah Weng Kwai seemed incredulous. He asked how could a stilted house be renovated into a bungalow. Liew replied that she had been told that the front portion of the house had been demolished.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Meanwhile, during former Kedah police chief Asri’s testimony, he was asked about the press release he issued on June 18, which spoke about a suspected drug and arms smuggler who was killed in a shootout on the previous day but made no mention of the possible links to Koh’s abduction.

Jerald also asked Asri why he did not show some items seized in the raid on the Kampung Selarong house during a press conference on the same matter, including the five printouts linked to Koh’s abduction, a flag with the words “Allahuakhbar” (God is great), and other political paraphernalia relating to the separatist southern Thai district of Pattani.

Asri said this was a deliberate omission decided between him and the Kedah CID chief Mior Farid Al Athrash Wahid. When asked, Asri said no one else was consulted on the decision, not even Bukit Aman or the Selangor police.

Asri said this is because some items such as the flag is “sensitive” in Malaysia, while other items could be sensitive in neighbouring Thailand.

He added that investigations into Koh’s case is still ongoing and he did not want to jeopardise Koh’s safety.

He said the press release was prepared by Mior and he assumed it to be accurate, and was unable to answer when asked how he was able to get the correct address when the address on Hazril’s search list was wrong.

During Asri’s testimony when the issue of the five printouts was mentioned, the police observer at the inquiry, R Munusamy, showed the Suhakam panel and Koh’s family lawyers a photo of the printouts on his phone, which he said was just sent to him by investigating officer Supari.

Jerald remarked that the building in the picture was not Koh’s house, as he lived in a condominium whereas the image is of a terraced house.

Khalid had previously said that the house pictured was believed to be Koh’s.

Meanwhile, panel chairperson Mah said the picture cannot be used as evidence as-is, and said it and other materials requested by the Suhakam panel should have been brought to the inquiry earlier.

He said the flow of information is “not as free as it should be”.

Mah has set Jan 15 next year as the deadline for the inquiry’s observers to file submissions, and Jan 31 as the deadline to file replies to submissions.

The Suhakam inquiry is investigating whether the disappearances of Koh, Amri Che Mat and Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Hilmy, are tantamount to enforced disappearances as defined under the International Convention for Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED).

Apart from Mah, Suhakam commissioners Aishah Bidin and Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh are also on the panel investigating the disappearances. – Malaysiakini