PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the open verdict on the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock and ruled that the death resulted from an unlawful act by a person or persons unknown.
The three-man panel, headed by Justice Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, was unanimous in its decision and called for a further probe into the death, by not excluding officers of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
All three panel members came up with their own written judgements. The two other judges were Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.
The panel ordered to be set aside the open-verdict decision of the Coroner’s Court and the Shah Alam High Court’s dismissal of the review application.
Justice Mah, who read out his judgement first, ruled that Teoh’s was a custodial death while under the detention of MACC officers.
He said Teoh was called to the MACC office as a witness and subjected to questioning until the early hours of the morning, which clearly showed that his rights had been violated.
On the possibility of Teoh having committed suicide, Mah ruled that out, saying the handwriting on a suicide note alleged to have been Teoh’s could not be verified by an expert as his.
Furthermore, Teoh’s conduct prior to the incident clearly showed that he was in a right frame of mind and was busy making arrangements for his wedding, he said.
Mah also referred extensively to the views of two experts in ruling out suicide as a possibility of death as suggested by counsel representing the MACC during the inquest.
He referred to the views of experts Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand and Dr Peter Venezis in the notes of the inquest that Teoh might have been strangled by someone based on the injuries on his neck.
“This might have resulted in him losing consciousness, and both (experts) believe he was still alive when he fell from the 14th floor of the building and I agree with them,” said Mah.
He also questioned the conduct of the MACC officers who had interrogated Teoh and urged police to carry out further investigation on who actually harmed the victim and urged them (police) not to exclude all those MACC officers who were last seen with Teoh.
Teoh was found sprawled on the fifth floor landing of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, where the MACC headquarters was formerly located, on the morning of July 16, 2009. He was 30.
After the Coroner’s Court handed down the open-verdict decision, Teoh’s elder brother Meng Kee filed an application to the High Court to have that decision reviewed.
However, the High Court in Shah Alam rejected his (Meng Kee’s) review application on Dec 1, 2011.
Meng Kee obtained leave from the Court of Appeal on Feb 2 last year to appeal against the decision of the High Court.
Meanwhile, Justice Hamid Sultan pointed out the delay in the MACC officers reporting Teoh’s death and their failure in securing the crime scene before the arrival of the police.
“They should have remembered that Teoh was just a potential witness in this case, but he was subjected to questioning for long hours,” he said.
He held that the injuries on Teoh’s neck occurred at the MACC premises and there was ample evidence leading to the MACC officers. – BERNAMA