©The Sun (Used by permission)
by Hemananthani Sivanandam and Pauline Wong
KUALA LUMPUR (July 21, 2011):Political aide Teoh Beng Hock was driven to suicide due to the aggressive interrogation methods used by Malaysian Anti–Corruption Commission (MACC) officers, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) concluded.
The inquiry into Teoh’s death two years ago at the Selangor MACC headquarters found that he was under great stress after continuous questioning sessions.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who released the RCI report today, said the inquiry’s finding was supported by the testimony of forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Edward Mullen, who testified that Teoh killed himself based on his “weak character” as a result of the intense interrogation.
Together with experts Dr Badi’ah Yahya and Dr Nor Hayati Ali, they concluded that the aggressive and relentless interrogation resulted in Teoh experiencing a change in his state of mind, transforming him from being in the low–risk group for suicide into the high–risk group.
“The RCI found that the MACC officers had no reason or intention to kill Teoh,” he told a press conference at Parliament building. “Therefore, Teoh was not killed by anyone else.”
Nazri said the RCI was of the view the MACC only wanted Teoh to confess so he could be a witness. However, it found that three investigating officers involved in the case had continuously questioned Teoh, using aggressive, inappropriate methods and had, therefore, violated procedures.
The RCI named the three MACC officers as:
>> former Selangor MACC deputy director Hishamuddin Hashim;
>> investigating officer Mohd Anuar Ismail; and
>> officer Mohd Ashraf Yunus.
Nazri gave the assurance that swift action will be taken against the officers to preserve and reassure the people of the anti–graft commission’s credibility. The RCI had also proposed improvement for MACC to study and take remedial measures in various aspects.
In an immediate response, Teoh’s family said they could not accept the suicide verdict and called for a judicial review of the RCI’s findings.
Teoh, 30, was found dead on the 5th floor corridor of the Selangor MACC office in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, on July 16, 2009, the day after being called in to assist in investigations against his boss, Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, over alleged irregularities into disbursement of Selangor government funds.
The RCI comprising Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen, former Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Selventhiranathan Thiagarajah, Penang Hospital forensic pathologist Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh and psychiatry forensic consultant Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom, who is also dean of the Medical Faculty, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, was convened following dissatisfaction over the open verdict delivered by the coroner’s court on Jan 5.
Asked if the family can seek any remedies if they are dissatisfied with the findings, Nazri said: “We are open. It is up to them. If they are not satisfied, then they can take other actions allowed by the law.
“On behalf of the government, I would like to express regret to the family on Teoh’s death. The government is also saddened by the incident and the loss of Teoh.”
“With this completion of this report, I hope all parties, including the family will find closure,” said Nazri.
Asked if the government will apologise to Teoh’s family, Nazri stressed that the cabinet only made a policy decision to make the report public.
When further pressed if he believes the government should apologise, Nazri said: “I cannot commit anything on behalf of the cabinet. We are here to talk about the report and what is strongly recommended by the royal commission, surely there is a government commitment to carry out the recommendations.”
The 124–page report will be on sale from 10am tomorrow at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya retailing at RM45 a copy and is available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Chronology of events
July 16: Teoh's body is found on the 5th floor corridor at Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam at 1.30pm.
July 22: The cabinet decides to set up an inquest to determine the cause of Teoh's death.
On the same day, the cabinet also decides to set up a royal commission of inquiry to scrutinise the mode of questioning employed by the Malaysian Anti–Corruption Commission (MACC) to determine whether there is violation of human rights during Teoh's questioning.
July 24: Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar (now deputy inspector–general of police) said the inquest will be held for 15 days, beginning July 29.
July 29: The inquest before Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas decides to call 77 witnesses, including 28 MACC officers, chemists, pathologists and Teoh's close friends. On the same day, the inquest was adjourned to Aug 5, to enable lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, representing Teoh's family, lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (representing the Selangor government) and the Bar Council to study the new documents.
Aug 5: The first witness, security guard Siti Zabedah Yahya, gives evidence.
Aug 19: The Coroner's Court directs the police to conduct investigations into the contents of a mysterious letter which has details relating to Teoh's death.
Oct 27: Teoh's family files an application to the magistrate's court, seeking an order for his remains to be exhumed so that a second post–mortem can be conducted.
Nov 4: The inquest proceedings conclude.
Jan 5: The Coroner's Court rules that Teoh's death was not due to suicide, homicide or third party involvement.
Jan 26: The Royal Commission of inquiry (RCI) is set up.
Feb 14: RCI convenes.
May 10: RCI proceedings conclude after 70 witnesses testify, including Teoh's former boss and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, and several MACC officers, who were not called during the inquest at the Shah Alam Coroner's Court.
June 22: The commission hands over its report to Yang di–Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.
July 21: The 124–page report is made public.