Insurance salesman Peter Pormannan, the first witness at the public inquiry into missing pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, said religious authorities were looking for Joshua after he converted from Islam to Christianity.
“Two years after I met Joshua, he told me that the religious authorities were looking for him.
“He said that it was related to what he believes in (faith) and about his life experience.”
Peter said this at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) public inquiry.
Suhakam officers during the inquiry then asked Peter if Joshua was investigated or threatened by the religious authorities.
To this, 58-year-old Peter said Joshua was not threatened.
“Joshua also told me that his IC (MyKad) stated that he was a Muslim and he wanted to take it out since he was a Christian,” Peter added.
Peter said he first met Joshua and Ruth in 2012 in Klang, after which they kept in touch. He said Joshua had no place to live and he had offered the couple his late mother-in-law’s house in Kampung Jawa after her death.
They lived in Kampung Jawa for about a year. During this time, they constantly kept in touch and Joshua told Peter that he had converted to Christianity.
Peter said Joshua and Ruth then shifted to Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya.
Peter was the first to lodge a police report when they went missing in 2017.
Meanwhile, the siblings of Indonesian Ruth Sitepu are pleading with the Malaysian authorities to help locate her.
Ruth’s sister, Ram Ram Elisabeth, said Ruth is a responsible and caring person and she would always respond to their messages.
“We miss her very much. We hope the Malaysian government and the Malaysian people will help us find her.
“She is a good person. We hope to be united with her again,” she said while holding back tears.
She was speaking to reporters after a public hearing held by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to probe the disappearance of Ruth and Joshua.
Ram Ram, who is the fifth out of eight siblings, said there could be individuals with information about Ruth and Joshua and the circumstances of their disappearance.
“We are desperate to know what happened to our sister and brother-in-law,” she said.
Ruth’s younger brother, Iman Setiawan Sitepu, said they arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and would be going back to Indonesia tomorrow.
He said they were from a big family and everyone was waiting for Ruth’s return. “We trust the Malaysian authorities will help us find her.”
Ruth’s siblings also lodged a police report on the couple’s disappearance in 2018.
Ruth’s family live in the fishing village of Nambiki in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. While the family were aware of her disappearance in March 2017, they could not come to Malaysia because of financial constraints.
They last spoke to her in November 2016.
Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, and Ruth were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.
They were married in Oct 2004.
The next inquiry will be held on March 2. The inquiry tentatively held over 14 days, between today and April 29, 2020, is chaired by commissioner Hishamuddin Yunus, assisted by commissioners Jerald Joseph and Madeline Berma.
The public inquiry is to assist the authorities with their ongoing investigation into the missing couple and to identify the best possible recommendations and to work on these with appropriate parties.
It is also to determine if it involved enforced disappearance and to consider whether the authorities, specifically the police, have taken adequate steps into the investigation of the case.