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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Officer had 9 reports against him over abuse

By Rita Jong

KUALA LUMPUR: The officer who interrogated Teoh Beng Hock the night before he died had nine police reports lodged against him for abusing suspects.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of the political aide yesterday heard that Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus was called by the police for investigations and had even stood in an identification parade.

Counsel N. Nahendran, appearing for the Bar Council, asked the MACC officer if he knew how many reports were lodged against him.
"I was called by the police several times," he said.

To this, commission chairman Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen cut in and asked the witness: "Do you want us to remind you?

"You don't remember, but we do. So, do you want us to tell you or do you want to tell us yourself?"

Ashraf maintained that he could not remember.

Foong: You have nine. Do you know you have the most complaints against you, compared with other officers?

Ashraf: No.

Foong: Did you try to change your ways or self-analyse yourself and to find out your limitations when interrogating suspects or witnesses?

Ashraf said no and denied torturing any suspects or witnesses.

Until today, he said, no action had been taken against him in court or by the MACC internal disciplinary unit.

The commission also heard that the MACC Complaints Committee had found that Ashraf had no authority to question Teoh.

The MACC Act 2009 stated that the officer examining a person shall record, in writing, the statement made by the person. The person should then sign the statement. If the person refused to sign, the person's refusal should also be recorded.

The findings of the complaints committee following Teoh's death was raised by counsel Edmund Bon yesterday, who is also representing the Bar Council.

Ashraf, however, said he "felt" he had the power to question Teoh but admitted that he did not record any statement as he was just assisting another officer, Arman Alies. 

Bon: Since you now know the findings, if you were ordered by your superior to question a witness today, would you still do it?

Ashraf: No.

He also denied Bon's suggestion that he had threatened Teoh during the interrogation.

Bon then asked Ashraf if he had read Teoh's statement which was recorded by another officer.

Ashraf: I read it one or two weeks after he died.

Foong: At that time (when Ashraf read the statement), a new team had taken over the case. How did you get the copy?

Ashraf: Someone made copies.

Bon then told Ashraf that during the inquest, which was previously held to ascertain the circumstances leading to Teoh's death, he had said he read the statement immediately after the incident.

"If you are now saying you had read it two weeks later, we would have to investigate who leaked Teoh's statement," said Bon.

Ashraf then replied that he had read the statement immediately after the political aide's death. 

He, however, denied doing it to ensure that the information he had extracted from Teoh was recorded.

Ashraf also told the panel he was instructed to complete interrogating Teoh on the same day.

Ashraf added that he and other MACC officers were investigated by the police over Teoh's death. He said he went to the Shah Alam police headquarters on July 17, 2009, at 8pm where he was questioned. 

His statement was recorded between 12.10am and 5.30am, and was subsequently told to wait until 7am with no further instructions.

Foong: Weren't you angry that you were made to wait?

Ashraf: I was not angry, just tired.

Foong: As a member of the public, how would you feel if you were taken to an unfamiliar place and detained for hours? How do you think Teoh would have felt?"

Ashraf then admitted that he would have felt pressured.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Ashraf said after interrogating Teoh, he told him to wait in a room, and Teoh was left there for more than four hours.

Inquiry will resume today with Arman taking the stand.


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