Thursday, 30 July 2009

Teoh Beng Hock - The Inquest

The Inquest into Teoh Beng Hock's death started today. It was a rush job by the Government. All parties were not ready; except the AG's side which continue to claim that they were ready despite the Police Investigation not 100% finished yet.

My firm, Richard Wee Lopez was appointed by the Bar Council to represent the Malaysian Bar to hold watching brief in the matter. A big team is involved in the exercise, 15 lawyers in total, all from other Legal Firms. For the Opening day, Counsels representing the Bar were, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, Cheow Wee, Rajpal Singh, Salim Bashir and myself.

For the family; Karpal, Gobind & Ramkarpal plus SN Nair were part of the legal team.

Selangor State Government were represented too, since TBH was working for them at the time of his untimely death. Imtiaz, Ashok Kandiah, Sreekant Pillai & Thomas Phillip represents the Selangor State Govt.

The AG engaged a member of the Bar, former DPP, Tan Hock Chuan to represent the Government.

The Court Room was tight; and we all had to squeeze into a tiny spot after the AG's team took almost have the table, leaving the balance to be shared among the 3 Legal Teams. 

In the end, we were allowed to hold watching brief, with 'Interested Party' Status; which means we can take more active part in the Inquest by asking questions, putting forward submissions etc etc.

Also, the AG's team revealed that 2 DNA were found on TBH's body. One is TBH's DNA; the other an unknown man. The Chemist team is conducting a thorough DNA test over 100 staff of MACC. I think if they find the match, the Inquest will probably stop as a Police Investigation would have to start. Under the Criminal Procedure Code; if the Inquest discover criminal culpability causing the death of a person in custody; like in TBH's case, the Inquest may be called to a halt pending the Police investigation into that culpability.

Also, the AG (who only prepared 2 sets of Documents to be handed under S51A, despite there being 3 teams) handed over the 2 sets of Documents to the Family team and the Selangor team. We at the BC team had to share the Document with Gobind, counsel for the Family. We had a quick look at the Document, and what I saw (photos, statements etc) does not lead me to believe that TBH jumped. I am not sure of the conclusion yet, but I am more certain now (after that quick glance of those Documents) that TBH did not jump or commit suicide. 

Let the Inquest go on and lets see what happens. I am just honoured that we are allowed the chance to represent the BC here. We have been dealing a few Legal Aid matters every now and then; but this is by far our biggest pro-bono case.

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