The brother of missing pastor Joshua Hilmy told police he had no issues with Joshua’s conversion to Christianity, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) public inquiry heard today.
Chief Inspector Zulfadhly Yacob, based at Sungai Way police station since November 2018, said Firdaus Hanim told police during an interview that he had no concerns over Joshua’s decision to leave the Muslim faith.
“Firdaus did not prevent him from holding any other religion.
“Or that he married a Christian from Indonesia,” Zulfadhly, the inquiry’s 14th witness, said today, in response to Suhakam Commissioner Madeline Berma.
The commissioner wanted to know if there was any mention in the police investigation that Joshua had changed his religion.
Firdaus was one of nine people police interviewed in the course of investigations into the disappearance of Joshua and wife Ruth Sitepu, who were last seen late in November 2016.
The police inspector also said he contacted some of Joshua’s five other siblings, who said they had not heard from him for years.
Lawyer Philip Koh, who is representing Joshua’s wife Ruth’s family, then asked Zulfadhly if he pursued the angle that Joshua had married a Christian woman.
Zulfadhly said he did not pursue that angle in his investigations.
Commissioner Hishamuddin Yunus then asked Zulfadhly if the law allowed a Malay to marry a Christian, to which the inspector replied that he was not sure.
Suhakam officers then asked him what action was taken to locate the couple.
Zulfadhly replied police checked on Joshua’s bank accounts.
“Joshua’s last account transaction was in 2017.”
Hishamuddin then asked him for the exact dates.
“He (Joshua) went missing in 2016…?”
Zulfadhly said that he had to check on the exact dates.
Little is known about Joshua and Ruth, believed to be victims of enforced disappearance.
In 2018, two years after they went missing, Ruth’s siblings lodged a missing person’s report.
Her family are from the fishing village of Nambiki in northern Sumatra.
International human rights laws define enforced disappearance as when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organisation, or by a third party with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of a state or political organisation.
The Suhakam panel is chaired by Hishamuddin, assisted by commissioners Jerald Joseph and Madeline.
The inquiry will resume on September 21. – TMI