(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysians as well as those in the international community concerned about the manifest injustices meted out to former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and who have had the opportunity to read and study in full the statement issued by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah about "Police investigation into injuries to Y.B. Dato’ Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim whilst in police custody" must feel a greater sense of outrage than just the shock when learning about the news of the statement whether through the Internet or the mass media yesterday.
My first reaction to news of the Attorney-General’s statement yesterday was that Mohtar’s admission that the police were "fully responsible" for the "black eye" and injuries sustained by Anwar while under police custody was that it was long overdue but scandalous when he said that "ongoing investigation has not identified the person responsible for the injury".
After reading in full the Attorney-General’s statement, I would add that what Mohtar said was a frightening confession about lawlessness and the unaccountability in the innermost sanctum of national security forces in Malaysia where a person could be assaulted or even killed without anybody knowing who had done it.
This reminds me of the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal in the early eighties, where the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad admitted that it was a heinous crime but one without criminals!
Now, we have another heinous crime without criminals, happening not outside the country, but in the very top-security precincts of national police headquarters at Bukit Aman, where nobody could have access but those with the highest and most sensitive security clearance.
It is a security scandal of the first magnitude that Anwar could be assaulted in the very recesses of top police high command until he lost consciousness without anybody knowing who had done it.
If this could happen to a personality who was until recently the Deputy Prime Minister, the second highest office in the land, which ordinary Malaysian can be safe and secure in police hands in the country?
It is an accountability scandal of the first order that despite a month-long investigation by a Special Investigation Team headed by ACP Mat Zain bin Ibrahim, knowing that the eyes of the nation and the world are focussed on its findings, the Attorney-General has to take over six weeks to announce that police investigations were not complete to enable him to make a final decision on the case, and that he had directed further special investigations.
Mohtar said he had directed the Special Investigation Team on 30th December
1998 to complete its investigations by recording statements from nine senior
police officers, namely:
The first question that comes to mind is why wasn’t a statement recorded from the Inspector-General of Police in the first place, when he should take full responsibility not only for what happened in the police force, but for what happened at the Police high command at Bukit Aman.
When ACP Mat Zain bin Ibrahim was appointed to head the Special Investigation Team to investigate into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while in police custody, he was the Malacca State Criminal Investigations Department chief. Isn’t it asking for too much to require a comparatively more junior officer to investigate not just a more senior police officer, but the the nine most senior police officers who represent the entire national top police leadership in the country?
If virtually the entire high command of the national police force, including the IGP, the Deputy IGP, the four Directors of Special Branch, Internal Security and Public Order, Criminal Investigations Department and Management, are also objects of investigations, all the more such an investigation must be conducted by an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry in order to command public confidence and credibility!
Mohtar was given the finding of the Special Investigation Team on 19th November 1998. Why did he have to wait six weeks later until 30th December 1998 to want statements to be recorded from the nine-man Police high command in connection with investigations into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody?
The Special Investigation Team submitted statements recorded from 67 witnesses, namely Anwar himself, three doctors who had examined Anwar and 63 members of the Police Force involved in the operations to arrest Anwar at his house and his detention at Bukit Aman.
Mohtar said he had scrutinized all the statements and examined all the evidence, including the following reports of medical experts:
(i) Report on medical examinations by Dr. Abdul Halim bin Haji
Mansar and Dr. Zahari bin Noor from the Forensic Division of the Department
of Pathology, Kuala Lumpur Hospital (referred to as the "Forensic Report");
(ii) Report on medical examinations by the following panel of doctors:
(iii) Medical Report of Dato’ Dr. Haji Ahmad Shukri bin Mohamad (referred to as the "Ophthalmologist’s Report").
On 1.12.98, Mohtar appointed Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Yusuf, Consultant Forensic Medical Examiner, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, to assist him in "studying from forensic aspects the Complainant’s allegations and the injuries found on his person as set out in the medical reports and statements of the various doctors".
Mohtar said that he has also directed the Special Investigation Team to record statements from the various doctors as, after scrutinizing the Report of the panel of Doctors and the Ophthalmologist’s Report, he found that the Forensic Report was not comprehensive and was inconsistent with both the former Reports on several Reports on several important aspects. He said the Special Report submitted to him by Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Yusuf on 21st December 1998 also touched on these inconsistencies.
What attracted the most attention in the Attorney-General’s statement yesterday must be the last two paragraphs, viz:
"9. As I have stated earlier, Police investigation in this case has not been completed. From the evidence obtained so far, a prima facie case has not yet been disclosed to enable the institution of prosecution under section 323 of the Penal Code against any person for causing hurt to the Complainant or for abetting the commission of such offence. The Report of the Panel of Doctors shows that there were several injuries suffered by the Complainant before his arrest by the Police. Based on the medical reports and the investigation file of the Special Investigation Team as a whole, I am satisfied that several injuries alleged by the Complainant are not true, while there are injuries on certain parts of his body which are proved to have been caused by police officers whilst he was in police custody. I am also of the opinion that the Royal Malaysian Police is fully responsible for the injuries to the Complainant whilst he was in the legal custody of the Police. Nevertheless, the investigation which have been carried out so far have not identified the person or persons responsible for such injuries.
"10. After further investigation has been fully carried out, if there is prima facie evidence, I as Public Prosecutor will not hesitate to consent to the institution of prosecution against any individual proved to have committed or abetted the commission of such offence."
It is clear that although the Attorney-General had not found any prima facie evidence as to the police person or persons who had assaulted Anwar, he had found a prima facie case that Anwar had been assaulted while in police custody and that the police were fully responsible for the assaults. At least, it has put to rest talk that Anwar’s "black eye" and injuries were self-inflicted.
Is the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor prepared to come forward to accept full personal responsibility for Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody? In fact, in other countries where there is a culture of accountability, not only the top police officer but the Home Minister (who is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself) would have resigned to accept full responsibility for the shocking criminal dereliction of duty in the very inner sanctum of the police high command.
Mohtar said he would not hesitate to consent to the institution of prosecution against any individual proved to have committed or abetted the commission of the offence against Anwar. At the very least, Mohtar’s statement has established that the police high command had abetted in the assaults on Anwar, whether by omission or commission. Is the Attorney-General prepared to indict the police high command for the offence?
National and international interest in the case demand greater disclosures on the investigation into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody, and for this reason, I call on the Attorney-General to make public the entire police investigation file, including statements recorded from 67 witnesses and all the medical reports which had been submitted to him.
The Attorney-General should realise that this is one of the rare cases where the judgement of the court of public opinion, including international opinion, is even more important than the court of law.