Beng Hock’s family to sue police after task force snub

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Teoh Beng Hock’s family will again go to the courts in search of answers to his mysterious death 12 years ago, this time with a suit against the police.

This follows Putrajaya’s decision to set up a special task force to review the death of 27-year-old fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, whose death from injuries sustained during a temple riot cannot be pinned on any culprit, even after a coroner’s inquest and police investigations.

Teoh’s sister Lee Lan welcomed the task force investigating the cause of Adib’s death but said the same should be done for other unresolved cases.

“It’s time to arrest and bring my brother’s murderer to justice and not just talk about it,” she told The Malaysian Insight of her brother’s case.

Lee Lan said three special committees had been established for her brother’s case – in 2012, 2014 and 2018 – yet the investigations are inconclusive until today.

She confirmed that the family will be filing a suit against the police.

“Police spent 12 years investigating but didn’t get the job done,” Lee Lan said.

Bernama

“We hope police can complete the investigation so that the murderer can be found and brought to justice,” she added.

Teoh, who was a political aide to then Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16, 2009, on the fifth-floor roof of the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam, which houses the Selangor Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters.

He had been held for interrogation on the 14th floor since the evening before and fell from a height of nine storeys. Teoh had been questioned about corruption allegations involving Ean Yong.

Since then, Teoh’s family has been pursuing one legal action after another, after the unsatisfactory outcomes of the various probes into his death.

A coroner’s inquest that took 18 months and found evidence of injuries prior to his fall, returned an open verdict that Teoh’s death was neither a homicide nor a suicide.

A royal commission of inquiry was then held, which concluded in July 2011 that Teoh was driven to suicide by the aggressive interrogation methods used by MACC officers. It also blamed three officers for their aggressive methods, which it said had violated procedure.

The family also sued 10 MACC officers, the anti-graft agency and the government for negligence and assault of Teoh while he was in their custody, resulting in his death.

They also filed another legal action to revise the coroner’s decision. This resulted in a landmark Court of Appeal judgment in 2014 to overturn the coroner’s open verdict, and to rule that Teoh’s death was not suicide but caused by unknown persons.

The appeals court also ordered the police to probe his death again.

In the family’s civil suit against the MACC, the government in May 2015 agreed to pay RM600,000 in damages and RM60,000 in costs.

The last probe into Teoh’s death was after Pakatan Harapan won federal power in 2018 and the new government agreed to reopen the case, which had been classified as “sudden death”.

The attorney-general in 2019 ordered the police to reinvestigate the case for wrongful detention under the Penal Code, much to the family’s dissatisfaction.

Since then, nothing has been heard of the probe while there have been two changes of government.

Lee Lan said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should not single out certain cases, such as Adib’s, for reinvestigation.

“This task force (for Adib’s death) should show that all citizens are treated fairly, since the prime minister is pushing the Keluarga Malaysia concept.

“We hope the government can include all wrongful cases, including the murder of my brother. Our family and the public have been waiting for an explanation for more than 12 years.”

Lee Lan said people’s confidence in law enforcement agencies needed to be restored, and this could only happen if law enforcement was held accountable.

She also suggested that the task force set a time limit and schedule for investigations.

For example, results should be announced in 100 days, since even ministers are required to present a report card for their first 100 days in office.

“Otherwise, the special task force will be inactive like the previous teams investigating Teoh’s case, and end up becoming a laughing stock,” Lee Lan said.

Teoh’s family lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said the constant lack of conclusive findings in his case for 12 years has caused people to doubt the effectiveness of government committees formed to investigate it.

Although the latest move to establish a special committee for fireman Adib is good, whether it can produce results is another matter, Ramkarpal, who is Bukit Gelugor MP, told The Malaysian Insight.

He also asked if the government was willing to act on other unresolved deaths such as Teoh’s.

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had also issued separate statements, saying the government would be practising double standards if it did not also expand investigations into other unresolved cases, including the numerous deaths in police custody. – TMI