Appellate court orders cops, AG to get those behind Beng Hock’s death


Teoh’s family lawyer Gobind Singh Deo confirmed to reporters that today’s decision is final and cannot be appealed at the Federal Court as the inquest had originated at the Coroner’s Court and presided over by a magistrate. ― file picture
Teoh’s family lawyer Gobind Singh Deo confirmed to reporters that today’s decision is final and cannot be appealed at the Federal Court as the inquest had originated at the Coroner’s Court and presided over by a magistrate. ― file picture
PUTRAJAYA, Sept 5 — The Court of Appeal today directed the police and the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) to re-investigate and prosecute the individuals responsible for the 2009 death of former DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

Justice Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer noted the appellate court’s unanimous ruling today that Teoh’s death was caused by “unlawful acts” by unknown persons including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers who had questioned him overnight before his death.

“In consequence I will allow the appeal and direct the Inspector-General of Police and Attorney-General’s Chambers to do the needful to commence investigation under the CPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and prefer appropriate charges as they deem fit,” said Hamid Sultan, who was the second judge to read out his judgement.

The two others on the three-judge panel — Datuk Mohamad Ariff Mohd Yusof and Datuk Mah Weng Kwai — made a similar direction.

To avoid perceptions of a “cover-up”, Mah said no efforts should be spared in bringing the alleged perpetrators behind Teoh’s death to book.

“And hopefully this will bring some closure for the family of Teoh Beng Hock,” he said.

The judges pointed out that an inquest was merely a fact-finding mission to determine a person’s cause of death and does not result in anyone being found guilty or liable.

Mohamad Ariff, who chaired the panel, said when explaining their decision: “No criminal or civil liability of any person is established.”

He said liability for the death will depend on “further investigation”, saying that a handwriting expert skilled in reading Mandarin characters should restudy Teoh’s alleged suicide note, which was controversially introduced during the inquest as evidence weeks after his death.

“Ultimately it will be for the public prosecutor to determine whether any person or persons should be charged,” he added.

But Hamid Sultan also said in his judgement that: “Under the Federal Constitution, the courts have no powers to compel the learned Attorney-General to institute proceeding against the culprits save to give ‘prerogative directions’, which is vested in the courts.”

He said the constitution only provides sanctions when orders or ‘prerogative directions’ are not obeyed.

The Court of Appeal was reviewing the decision by the Coroner’s Court in 2011, which had delivered an open verdict, ruling that Teoh’s death was not a homicide or a suicide.

The Teoh family’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo confirmed to reporters that today’s decision is final and cannot be appealed at the Federal Court as the inquest had originated at the Coroner’s Court and was presided over by a magistrate.

In setting aside the two earlier decisions of the Coroner’s Court and High Court, all three judges on the Court of Appeal panel substituted it with their verdict today, saying:

“The death of Teoh Beng Hock was caused by multiple injuries from a fall from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam as a result of or which was accelerated by the unlawful act or acts of persons or persons unknown, inclusive of MACC officers who were involved in the arrest and investigation of the deceased.”

Teoh’s family have been in and out of the courtrooms over the past five years, after the 30-year-old groom-to-be was found sprawled in a pool of his own blood on the fifth-floor landing of the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam on the morning of July 16, 2009, days before his wedding.

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Reopen Beng Hock’s case now, says sister

Published: 5 September 2014

A sister of the late Teoh Beng Hock (pic) said the inspector-general of police must not waste time in reopening her brother’s case following today’s Court of Appeal ruling.

Lee Lan said the court verdict was crystal clear that there was criminal culpability.

“My brother was murdered, only that the culprit is unknown,” an emotional Lee Lan told reporters after emerging from the courtroom in Putrajaya today.

She said the ruling was sweet victory for justice although it came five years after Beng Hock’s death.
“It was a worthwhile wait to hear this ruling.”

She also jogged the memory of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who promised her parents that no stone would be left unturned if there was sufficient evidence to pinpoint the culprits responsible for Teoh’s death.

Najib had met the parents soon after he became prime minister in 2009.

Lee Lan said said the family would give police a reasonable time to begin their investigations but would act if they kept flip-flopping.

“We will act within the law like holding forums and protests,” added the 34-year auditor.

Gobind Singh Deo, who represented the family, said the three written grounds were testimony that there was foul play in Teoh’s death.

“It has been long and winding five years for a court to finally declare that his death was not due to suicide nor was it an accidental death,” said Gobind, who is also Puchong MP.

He said today’s ruling had lowered the standard of proof in an inquiry and clearly stated that the coroner’s role was to collect evidence for the police to conduct further investigations.

“This is significant, especially in death-in-custody cases.”

In this case, Gobind had told the judges that there was ample evidence to support the findings that Teoh’s death was consistent with that of homicide.

He had said there was credible evidence to show that there was a pre-fall injury to Teoh’s neck.

He said expert evidence showed that there was a bruise on the left side of the deceased’s neck, indicating that some force was applied on the neck.

Gobind also expressed hope the government would concede to the civil suit filed by Teoh’s family.

“Today’s ruling is clear that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was liable and the government should pay damages,” he said.

The High Court is scheduled to hear the matter in November.

Teoh’s father, Leong Hwee, his mother, Teng Shuw Hoi, his widow Soh Cher Wei and their son Teoh Er Jia are seeking damages against the MACC and 12 others for assault and occupier’s liability.

So far, 13 witnesses have given evidence for the family.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low should apologise to the public and Teoh’s family when he said the MACC internal investigation cleared all officers who interrogated the deceased.

“It is clearly a cover-up and Low should own up,” she said.

Teo said police should also drop its sedition probe into DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, who had publicly stated that Teoh’s death was due to foul play.

“The court ruling has proven Kit Siang right.” – September 5, 2014.

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