(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The New Straits Times today carried a front-page headline "Probe into Anwar's claims begins" with a report datelined yesterday that "The high-powered team of police officers formed to investigate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's allegations that he was assaulted while in police custody began its work today".
The NST said the police investigation team is headed by Malacca
Criminal Investigation Department head Assistant Commissioner of
Police Mat Zain Ibrahim, 48, who had been seconded to the Federal
police headquarters in Bukit Aman and that other members of the team are
senior police officers of the CID.
I was taken aback by this report as it contradicts the statement by the Federal police headquarters head of public relations Supt Ghazali Md Amin faxed to newspapers on Tuesday night (Sept. 29) after Anwar, brought to court with a swollen eye and bruises on his right arm, had made a statement in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court early the same day that he was punched in the face and neck when blindfolded and handcuffed until he lost consciousness at the lock-up the night (Sept. 20) he was arrested.
According to the Sun 30.9.1998, Supt. Ghazali issued the following statement:
"The investigation is already under way and police guarantee a detailed investigation will be carried out, with all fairness, in search of the truth of the claims.
"It must be clarified that police have conducted similar investigations before, after which the party in the wrong was charged in court. Therefore, any party should not feel doubtful of police investigations in relation to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claims."
As Supt. Ghazali had said that the investigaiton unit had been formed by the police immediately after Anwar lodged his report, which was on the seventh day of his detention or Sept. 27, and that "the investigations is already under way", how come the investigations only started yesterday - five days later?
Anwar’s "black eye" is a "black eye" for Malaysia’s international image and reputation and DAP calls for an independent inquiry by a retired judge with impeccable reputation for independence and impartiality.
The government should realise that it is just not acceptable whether by Malaysians or the international community that investigations into Anwar’s allegations of police beating while under police custody is being investigated by the police itself.
In the interest of the credibility of the Police force itself, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor should agree and request the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the investigations into Anwar’s allegations of police brutality should be conducted by completely independent investigators outside the Police force. By taking such a stand, the Police will be showing the nation and the world that it has nothing to hide and that it would not condone any brutality by anyone in the Police force.
This is particularly the case as the Inspector-General of Police himself had publicly declared on Sept. 24 that Anwar was "safe and sound" since being in police custody since Sept. 20.
Such an investigation into Anwar’s allegations of police brutality must inquire as to whether firstly, the IGP was aware of Anwar’s injuries when he made the statement on Sept. 24 that Anwar was "safe and sound", and if not, when he was first informed of the injuries; and secondly, when the Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad first knew about Anwar’s injuries.
There had been the outrageous suggestion that Anwar’s injuries were self-inflicted. If so, when were these injuries self-inflicted, and why didn’t the Police give all available information about the self-infliction of these injuries by Anwar in the first available time? Did the police lodge a report that Anwar had self-inflicted these wounds on himself while in police custody - if so, when; and if not, why not?
These questions reinforce the demand and case that the investigations into Anwar’s allegations of police brutality should be an independent one not involving the police at all, if the outcome of the investigations is to secure national and international confidence.