|Hanif says would meet Bar Council, Bersih over rally probe|
|Tuesday, 29 May 2012 08:47am|
©The Malaysian Insider (Used by permission)
by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
PUTRAJAYA, May 28 — Tun Hanif Omar has said he is willing to meet the Bar Council as well as Bersih leaders as part of investigations into allegations of police violence against journalists and other participants at last month’s rally for electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur.
Hanif, who is leading Putrajaya’s independent panel, said he wanted his inquiry team to be given a chance to carry out its duties without “suspicion” from any parties.
“With regards to concerns that there may be several parties like the Bar Council and Bersih who are unco-operative, I would like to state that the panel is only an alternative channel for those who want to co-operate willingly.
“I am prepared to meet the Bar Council or any other parties, including going to their office, for (everyone’s) mutual benefit,” Hanif said in a statement today.
The former inspector-general of police has been criticised by opposition lawmakers as well as Bersih leaders for calling participants of the April 28 rally communist sympathisers.
He recently alleged that the event was meant to overthrow the government instead to push for free and fair elections, a move that led to calls for the former IGP step down from heading the independent panel.
“The panel is formed to investigate and to obtain a true picture of the rally, which took place in Dataran Merdeka on April 28, 2012 — including allegations of police brutality.
“This panel has also been given freedom by the government in a lot of aspects including our time frame as well as parties [that] can be consulted to assist us in our investigations,” said Hanif.
The April 28 rally that saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her announcement was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted to linger around the historic square, which the courts had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protesters breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes, which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have alleged that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim, but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.
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