Teoh's inquest adjourned to Aug 5

The inquest into the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock started at 9.20am before coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas at the Shah Alam Magistrate's Court today.

However it was adjourned for a week to Aug 5 following a request from lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who is holding a watching brief for Teoh's family.

A total of 77 witnesses, including Teoh's fiancée Soh Cher Wei, are expected to be called to testify at the inquest.

Lawyers Karpal Singh and Sankara Nair are also holding a watching brief for Teoh's family.

Ram Karpal Singh and Lim Lip Eng are the counsel for the family. The family members arrived for the inquest at about 8.20am.

Bar Council chairperson Ragunath Kesavan said 12 lawyers have been assigned to hold a watching brief for the Bar.

Teoh, 30, was found dead on July 16 outside Plaza Masalam, following interrogation for 10 hours by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has its Selangor office on the 14th floor of the building.

Teoh, who was political secretary to Selangor exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah, was a witness in the investigation into the alleged abuse of constituency development funds by several Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state assemblypersons.

Request to widen the RC's scope

At about 9.40 this morning, Gobind (right) asked the court for a stay of proceedings until the cabinet makes a decision on widening the scope of the royal commission of inquiry that is to be set up.

"If the government agrees, this inquest will become unnecessary," he said.

His application for the adjournment was made under Practice Direction No 1 of 2007 Guidelines of Inquest - Section C on the Notice of Inquest.

It states that the magistrate should arrange to notify the family members and next-of-kin about the date, hour and place of the inquest, giving minimum notice of two weeks.

As for the first mention date, a maximum of three weeks will be given for parties to appear before the coroner, calculated from the date of the receipt of the report from the government medical officer. (Gobind was referring to the post-mortem report).

Gobind also said the attorney-general (AG) should study the investigation report and only call for an inquest when the cause of death cannot be determined.

"We are not concerned if the delay of the inquest is the last thing the government wants. More importantly, we are interested in justice," said Gobind.

He added that the autopsy report was only completed last night and was told that two witnesses were asked for their DNA samples.

"DNA samples are of immense importance, (and) of course it may implicate the witnesses in this trial... So they need to know if they should be given time to appoint lawyers," said Gobind, also adding that the parties need more time to intelligently conduct the inquest.

Lawyer Malik Imtiaz, representing the Selangor government, supported Gobind's application, as did Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, representing the Bar Council.

Lawyer Tan Hock Chuan (left), who was appointed by the AG to assist the inquest, said he had no objections for a short adjournment but stressed that, according to practice, the inquest should start promptly.

Tan, a former DPP, is now in private practice.

Although Tan agreed to Gobind's request for an adjournment and agreed to provide all documents including reports and photographs, except the statement of witnesses, to counsel, he said that:

"I was also hired only two days ago... An inquest should be done at the very earliest, with minimal postponement," said Tan.

However, Gobind rebutted that if the inquiry is rushed it will work against the "interest of justice".

"We don't want that, while we want to hurry, we should not compromise on the law and most importantly the interest of justice," he said.

Application for documents

Gobind asked for the forensic and DNA reports, and the statements of the two MACC officers who interrogated Teoh because they were the last people to see him alive.

Tan replied that a full set of documents has been prepared for the proceedings, counsel for the family, the Bar Council and the Selangor government.

But he refused to provide the witness statements as Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code does not stipulate the need to do so.

Azmil agreed that all reports should be provided, except witness statements, for the time being.

Tan then provided the autopsy, toxicology, photographs, forensic, CCTV and DNA reports to counsel.

Gobind said he would need 10 days to look at the documents in detail.

The adjournment was granted after the court had stood down for 30 minutes to decide on the 'stay' application.

Unknown DNA found on Teoh's clothing

After the inquest resumed, Tan responded to Gobind's inquiry about DNA samples taken from witnesses.

Tan told the coroner that according to the first report, the DNA profile derived from the swab taken off the back outer side of the blazer worn by the deceased Teoh Beng Hock consisted of mixture of male DNA types from another individual.

"One concordant with blood stain specimens of the deceased and one unknown male individual," said Tan.

"Another DNA profile derived from a swab, also taken off the tear region of the waist belt worn by the deceased (which) consisted of a mixture of male DNA types and indicated concordances with the blood stain specimen of the deceased and at least one other male contributor," said Tan.

He said that specimens have been taken from 102 people to determine whether any one of them was the "unknown male person".

"I have been told that by the chemist that results of 90 specimens are ready and only 12 more are to be completed," said Tan.

The DNA report on the 90 persons has been supplied to the interested parties.

He also confirmed that two individuals had refused to provide their DNA and that was the reason for the delay on the second DNA report.

Gobind then interjected and asked if any of the specimens collected matched the unknown male individual.

However, Tan evaded answering and simply stated that he was just explaining the scenario and it is for the experts to provide the evidence.

Tan told the coroner that there are 89 witnesses in total and 80 were subpoenaed today.

The coroner then asked Tan to provide the list of witnesses for the upcoming inquest, and he would then decide who to call rather than having all the witnesses congregate at the court.


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