SHAH ALAM: The inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock took a strange twist yesterday with an allegedly incriminating letter dominating the proceedings.
Gobind Singh Deo, who is holding a watching brief for Teoh’s family, told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas that he had been handed a letter which contained “explicit details”.
“I was handed the letter yesterday (Tuesday) evening after the proceedings and I think it is significant for the purpose of the case,” he remarked.
He informed the coroner that other parties involved in the inquest had also viewed the five-page typewritten letter dated Aug 5.
Gobind then handed the letter in its envelope to Azmil Muntapha who took several minutes going through it.
Gobind then made an application for the coroner to direct investigations by investigating officer ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal into the contents of the letter.
Gobind told Azmil Muntapha that he had wide powers as coroner to order a probe.
The letter clearly relates to material facts and circumstances relevant and pertinent to the inquest, said Gobind, adding that Teoh’s family had been informed accordingly.
Teoh’s parents, Teoh Leng Hwee and Teng Shuw Hor, as well as the deceased’ siblings Beng Kee and Lee Lan were in court yesterday.
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, for the Selangor state government, supported Gobind’s application that the letter be investigated.
Government-appointed counsel Tan Hock Chuan, who is assisting the coroner in the inquest, told Azmil Muntapha that he too had viewed the letter.
He said the contents of the letter was directly related to the issues raised, and yet to be raised, at the inquest.
As such, Tan said he had no objection to the investigation officer probing the matter.
“All of us are interested in assisting to arrive at the truth at the end of the inquest. There are several names mentioned in the letter. The police need to be given the chance to verify the truth,’’ he added.
He then asked the court to impose a “gag order” with regard to the contents of the letter so that investigations would not be hampered.
Tan urged the court not to mark the letter as evidence pending investigations as it had nothing to do with the inquest.
Gobind suggested that a copy of the letter be kept by the court, saying he did not know to what extent a gag order would work as the letter could already be in circulation.
Azmil Muntapha then ordered ASP Ahmad Nazri to investigate the contents of the letter and instructed all counsel not to divulge any information about the letter to the press. The inquest was adjourned to 2pm on Monday.
Speaking to reporters later, Gobind said the letter named a number of persons and cited material facts and circumstances relevant to the inquest.
The envelope containing the letter was believed to bear the insignia of a particular organisation.
Gobind said he was prepared to ask for another deferment if the police needed time to probe the letter.
“Let us try and see what we can do in the next four days. If it is sufficient time, then it’s good. If there is a need to ask for deferment, we will,” he said.
Gobind said that going by the letter’s contents, there might be a need to recall some witnesses.