Full text of press statement from the AG Chambers is below
SHAH ALAM: The Teoh Beng Hock’s inquest took a dramatic turn on Monday when the Attorney-General’s Chambers unexpectedly introduced a note found 18 months ago in Teoh’s bag that “may throw some light regarding his death.”
The new evidence startled counsels representing the Teoh family, the Selangor government and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) but the contents of the note remains a mystery.
Teoh’s family counsel Gobind Singh Deo accused the AG’s Chambers of withholding ‘crucial’ evidence but when asked if the document was Teoh’s final words, he declined to divulge the contents before speaking to Teoh’s family
Speculation that Teoh had left a suicide note before his death plunge had been alleged by several people including Senator Ezam Mohd Nor.
Meanwhile, the AG Chambers issued a statement late Monday “vehemently” denying suppressing any evidence but shed no light on the contents of the note except to say that it was written in Chinese and was discovered by the investigating officer ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal who had not realised its significance until October.
It said the note could not entered into evidence until it had been authenticated and that the investigating officer had been directed to explain it at the inquiry.
Earlier Monday, when the new evidence was introduced, Gobind asked the inquest to be stood down for all relevant parties to confer with coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas in chambers.
About half-an-hour later, Gobind walked out angrily, packed his bags and stormed out of the courtroom.
He later told newsmen he was informed that a document, which had been withheld by the AG’s Chambers, would be tendered by investigating officer Asst Supt Ahmad Nazri Zainal during his testimony.
“It relates to evidence and ought to have been introduced a long time ago as is crucial to the inquest,” said Gobind.
“We have gone through the inquest for a year and they want to introduce this (new evidence) one week before Dr Pornthip takes the stand?” Gobind said.
Renowned Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand is scheduled to testify on Aug 18.
Dr Pornthip had earlier testified there was an 80% probability that Teoh’s death was a homicide.
Her testimony prompted a second post-mortem on Teoh’s remains to be conducted last Novmber.
Gobind said that had the evidence been revealed earlier, the experts who had testified could have also evaluated it.
No mention had been made of the documents by counsels representing the AG’s Chambers throughout the inquest, he said.
These documents are crucial and would have changed the nature of the inquest significantly, said Gobind.
Gobind also demanded that AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail disclose if there was any other yet to be released documents relevant to the case and told him "to stop playing games".
He added Abdul Gani should step down for witholding evidence, and that a royal commission of inquiry should be initiated immediately, given the turn of events.
“Let me remind the AG that we won’t bow down to any pressure.
“If the need arises we will file the necessary application to get the AG to explain his conduct,” said Gobind who also questioned the authenticity of the document.
Meanwhile, counsel representing the Selangor state government Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said the state was very unhappy with the turn of events.
He added if the document had been revealed earlier, the case might have been approached differently and the witnesses might have also been cross-examined differently.
Due to the turn of events, two witnesses businessmen Lee Wye Weng and Mohd Harun Abdullah, who were questioned by the MACC on the same day as Teoh, would not be called.
Azmil Muntapha had also not decided whether or not to let the new evidence into the inquest.
Teoh, 30, the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was summoned to the Selangor MACC office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam on July 15 to be queried over the alleged disbursement of state funds.
He was found dead the following day.
FULL TEXT OF PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE AG CHAMBERS:
In Teoh Beng Hock’s death inquiry today, the officers representing the Public Prosecutor in assisting the said inquiry intended to put in a note found in the deceased’s sling bag which contains an indication that may throw some light regarding his death.
However, the existence of the note was disputed on the grounds of delay in disclosure, failure to furnish a copy of the said note to the counsels representing the deceased’s family and suppression of evidence by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The Attorney-General Chambers vehemently denies any suppression of evidence instead was equally startled when the discovery of the note was made known and thereafter caused further investigation to be carried out.
The Attorney-General Chambers was informed of the discovery of the note by the Investigating Officer, ASP Ahmad Nazri bin Zainal on 7.10.09 some two over months after Teoh Beng Hock’s death. According to the Investigation Officer it was not found when he first searched the deceased’s sling bag after the incident.
The note was immediately translated and there was sufficient cause to send it to be analysed by a Document Examiner of the Chemistry Department. The said note was sent on 9.10.09 and subsequently on 20.10.09.
The Document Examiner prepared his reports and they were considered by the Attorney-General himself where the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was not convinced of the authenticity of the note due to insufficient samples to verify the handwritings in particular the Chinese characters.
In addition, the note was said to be discovered some two over months after the death and that this would raise suspicion over its authenticity and discovery.
Having considered these factors, Tan Sri Abdul Gani was of the view that the note should not be tendered until and unless the Investigation Officer could provide satisfactory explanation as to its discovery.
As regards the note, the Attorney-General’s Chambers was earlier briefed by the Investigation Officer that he conducted a thorough search after being advised by the psychiatric that ordinarily there would be a note left in a suicide case.
However, recently the Investigation Officer owned up by admitting that he did in fact find the note when he searched the sling bag on 17.7.09 but did not realise the significance of it as there were other documents found and that they were written in both Chinese and Roman characters.
As a result of this the Attorney-General decided to put the note in and directed the Investigation Officer to explain this in court to avoid any repercussion in future and let the Coroner decide on its weight after considering the explanation by the Investigation Officer and the Document Examiner’s report.
Therefore, there is no suppression or withholding of evidence and that the decision for not tendering it earlier was made based on the Document Examiner’s report as well as the discovery of the note which gave rise to suspicion.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers will tender a document as evidence only and until it is satisfied that any shroud of suspicion surrounding it is lifted.
Jabatan Peguam Negara 9 August 2010
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