Former ACA official: Teoh held unlawfully

Standard procedures “were not followed” on July 15 by the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), when it questioned DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock at its office in Shah Alam.

Pointing this out when asked by Malaysiakini, a senior officer who retired from the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in 2006, further alluded to malice on the part of the MACCin having exceeded its powers.

Mohamad Ramli Manan , in an email interview, said Teoh’s interrogation was carried out beyond office hours and that this could be considered as “unlawful detention”.

The MACC had called in Teoh as part of its investigations into the alleged misuse of constituency development funds by several Selangor Pakatan Rakyat assemblypersons, including his boss and exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah

“It is against established law and practice to interrogate them (suspects) in the night. The lock-up rules demand that they be sent to a lock-up by at least 8pm,” Ramli said.

“Witnesses are sent back to their offices or homes and asked to be present at another appointed date. I don’t know why they had to call Teoh at 5pm. This may be due to poor planning or some evil intention or evil purpose on their part.”

Teoh was reportedly released by the MACC at 3.45am on July 16, but his body was found on the fifth floor balcony of Plaza Masalam about 1.30pm. The MACC occupies the 14th floor of the tower block overlooking the plaza.

During his service with the ACA, Ramli was deputy head in Kedah, Perak and Negri Sembilan, before being appointed to head the agency in Kelantan, Malacca, Johor and Sabah.

He shocked the nation in early 2007 when he alleged that then ACA director-general Zulkipli Mat Noor was involved in corruption and a sex offence.

Zulkipli was later cleared by the attorney-general’s chambers, but his contract was not extended when it expired in March 2007.

Witness’ consent required

Although the MACC was upgraded from the ACA early this year, Ramli said the investigation and interrogation procedures remain the same.

Under the ACA, interrogation used to begin as early as 8am and end between 7pm and 8pm.

“The rights of a witness are protected more than that of a suspect, who is under detention…the person can demand that the interview be adjourned to the next morning.

“The examining officer has to oblige, failing which this becomes an (unlawful) detention or arrest.”

He said the examining officer must also get the witness’ consent to continue the interrogation beyond 8pm.

“Normally witnesses would consent to staying a bit longer until 9-10pm to have their statement recorded. But if they don’t consent, there is nothing that the examining officer can do but to request that the interview be continued the next day. This is the law.”

Ramli cited media reports that Ean Yong had turned up at the Selangor MACC, asking that Teoh be released. However, MACC officials claimed that they had 24 hours to question him.

“This shows that Teoh was definitely in the custody of the MACC. Under Section 15 of the Criminal Procedure Code, an arrest occurs when you confine the person (physically). Thus there was unlawful detention or arrest of Teoh.

“If there had been no detention, they should have allowed Teoh to go home at around 9pm or 10pm and requested him to come back the next day. He was definitely held against his will.”

After Teoh’s death, the MACC said Teoh was merely a witness in the investigation, but did not state that he had been arrested or detained. It also claimed that Teoh wanted to rest for a while at the office after he had been allowed to go.

Preliminary police investigations have, however, found out that Teoh’s mobile phone was still with the MACC at the time of his death.

Ramli said MACC should have issued an acknowledgment to Teoh upon his release, listing all the items they had taken from him.

“If no (such) list had been given to Teoh, it is difficult to say that he had been allowed to leave the office,” noted Ramli.

MACC has not confirmed if an acknowledgment list was given to Teoh.

An inquest to probe the circumstances surrounding Teoh’s death is due to start tomorrow, and will continue to Aug 12.

Malaysiakini
28/07/09

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