Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today expressed his scepticism about the government’s decision to charge 12 new suspects for rioting, in the case of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, and the proposed second inquest into the latter’s death.
In a statement, the former home minister said that Section 143 of the Penal Code punishes those involved in an illegal assembly, where the offender is only sentenced to imprisonment of not more than six months, or a fine, or both.
“This does not commensurate with the life of a civil servant who has been killed.
“Rightfully, the charge that should be imposed on those involved is an offence related to the crime of murder, as provided in Chapter 16 of the Penal Code and not an illegal assembly offence,” Zahid said.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin yesterday told the Dewan Rakyat that the police have two new recommendations linked to Adib’s death, during a riot at a Hindu temple in Seafield, Selangor nearly two years ago.
He disclosed that the police have 12 new suspects whom they are recommending should be charged with rioting under Section 143 of the Penal Code.
“Two proposals were made. One, to charge 12 suspects under Section 143 of the Penal Code with rioting and attacking Fire Department officers.
“Secondly, hold another inquest if the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) agrees to it under Section 399 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC),” Hamzah said during his winding-up speech while debating the King’s royal address.
However, Zahid today lamented that the proposal for a second inquest seemingly negates the decision of the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court, which ruled in September 2019 that the cause of Adib’s death was due to criminal acts involving two or more unknown individuals.
“The additional proposal to hold the inquest, although allowed by law, clearly wastes time and further delays justice for the late Muhammad Adib and his family.
“What’s more, the offence that has been committed is a very serious crime against a civil servant who was on duty,” Zahid added.
Meanwhile, RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) expressed his disappointment with the authorities for recommending that the culprits involved in a temple riot, which led to the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim in 2018, be charged with a lesser crime.
In citing the Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 36(12), he said the culprits should be charged for murder under 302 of the Penal Code instead of rioting under Section 143 of the Act.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said, however, interjected, asking him to allow justice to take its course.
“The police have reopened the investigation and referred the case to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC). Please allow the AGC to review it (and decide) whether to prosecute the culprits under Section 143 Penal Code right away. The second (recommendation by police) is for an inquest to be conducted; if agreed by the AGC, we will proceed.
“We have been asked by the public on the status of the case. Please be patient. As an experienced lawyer, you are well learned about the process,” he said.
Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun then suggested Rayer to submit a motion to complain on the matter.
Earlier, several members of parliament had interjected in demanding updates on the case, prompting Hamzah to tick off Rayer whom he said had kept interrupting his speech.
“I wanted to answer your inquiry, but I was unable to because of your attitude,” Hamzah retorted.
To this, Rayer told Hamzah not be arrogant (angkuh), prompting protests by Barisan Nasional MPs, including Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) who demanded that he retract the offensive remark, citing the Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 36(4).
“I don’t have much time (as his allotted time in the debate session was ending). I’m not ‘angkuh’, but merely telling the truth. If Jelutong didn’t interrupt me incessantly, I would have been able to give an explanation (on the case),” said Hamzah.
Muhammad Adib’s father Mohd Kassim Abdul Hamid had on July 17 said he was planning to take civil action against the police for alleged negligence and failure to prevent events that had led to his son’s death.
In response, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had said the force was ready to face the lawsuit, saying they have questioned 52 new witnesses in addition to an earlier batch of 30 people.
However, he said, none had concurred with the coroner’s conclusion.