By Debra Chong and Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
SHAH ALAM, Aug 24 — The explosive mystery letter, said to be written by anti-graft officers and which led to a sudden halt in the ongoing inquest on DAP political secretary Teoh Beng Hock’s death last week, hit a brick wall today when it failed to be marked as a “case exhibit”.
Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) director of legal affairs, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, had stood up at the start of today’s inquest and asked magistrate, Azmil Muntapha Abas who is acting as coroner, to throw out the letter.
Abdul Razak, who is holding a watching brief for the national anti-graft body, pointed out that the letter did not carry any names but made many claims which could not be conclusively proven to be true.
He added that the court should not be influenced by such claims.
Abdul Razak had earlier advised the coroner to ignore the letter for the time being. He noted that the inquest should continue unhampered by unproven allegations.
But he stepped up his calls for the letter to be retracted when lawyers for Teoh’s family and the Selangor government pushed for the letter to be marked and recorded as a key item in discovering how the 30-year-old really died.
“There is no provision under the law to enter a document such as this. We cannot open the floodgates,” Abdul Razak stressed.
He noted that MACC viewed the letter as a “surat layang” or poison-pen letter and added that in previous courts, the letter would have been thrown into the dustbin.
The MACC lawyer’s words provoked an outcry from the other lawyers, especially Gobind Singh Deo, who had received the letter last Tuesday and brought it into court the next day.
Gobind told the coroner he could not “ignore” the letter as he had acted on it, ordering the police to carry out investigations based on it.
While the magistrate decided that the court would keep the mystery letter for the record, it will not mark it for now.
Gobind, representing Teoh’s family, later told reporters that “it would not be wise” to jump to conclusions at this stage “without proper investigations”.
“It is still too early to set aside the contents of the letter,” the goateed lawyer explained.
Lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, acting for the Attorney General’s Chambers in aiding the inquest, had earlier recounted the police investigating officer, ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal’s probe results.
The cop had been ordered by the magistrate on Aug 18 to immediately check into the letter’s many claims, including one accusing the Selangor MACC deputy director of having his DNA sample taken behind closed doors for testing to match the DNA profiles of two unknown men, which were found on Teoh’s clothes, raising public suspicion of possible foul play involved in Teoh’s death.
Tan added that a fresh swab test had been carried out by government DNA expert, Dr Seah Lay Hong, on the deputy director’s DNA sample on Aug 20 in the presence of a Malaysian Bar Council lawyer.
The results showed no match between the deputy director’s DNA profile and that of “Male 1” or the other unknown male person.
The letter, dated Aug 5 which Tan told the court today was from people claiming to be “MACC officers”, made four other claims directly related to Teoh's inquest.
Allegation 1 – That the Selangor MACC deputy director had instructed MACC officers involved in the operation not to to involve him in the case;
Allegation 2 – That the MACC officer in question had a certain “interrogation technique”;
Allegation 3 – That the Selangor MACC deputy director had ordered his subordinates to wipe clean fingerprint traces from a window believed to be where Teoh had plunged to his death;
Allegation 4 – That the Selangor MACC deputy director did not punch out his card on July 16, the day Teoh died.
Tan also told the court the cops had checked by recording statements from “relevant witnesses” and found no proof to back them up, except one — that the Selangor MACC deputy director, Hishamuddin Hashim, had failed to clock out.
“He did not punch out,” Tan said, but added that closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras had captured the senior officer leaving the building.
The lawyer also told the magistrate he could ask the man himself why he did not punch out when he was called to the witness stand.
Tan said eight to 10 MACC officers would be called to testify in the next few days.
Teoh Lee Lan, Beng Hock’s younger sister beseeched the public to look into the matter and help them in the ongoing investigations.
“We wish to appeal to anyone who has information about how Beng Hock had died to come forward and pass the information to our lawyer, YB Gobind Singh Deo,” the 28-year-old pleaded.
“Beng Hock’s death was most painful to us. Equally painful is the fact that the cause of his death is still not known. Every single day since July 16 has been a very tormenting day for each and every one in our family,” she added.
The Teoh family — father Hwee Leong, mother Teng Shuw Hoi, elder brother Meng Kee and Lee Lan — were present in court today with former DAP secretary general Kerk Kim Hock, a distant relative, when MACC investigating officer returned to the witness stand.
Teoh’s mother, who sat on the front row in the public gallery, held up a framed portrait of her son towards Mohd Anuar Ismail’s direction when he took the oath, but made no other gesture for the rest of the hearing.
The inquest continues tomorrow morning with Gobind leading the cross-examination of the soft-spoken Mohd Anuar.