Dec 4, 07
Suhakam today announced that it would kick off a three-day public inquiry into September’s Batu Buruk riot in Kuala Terengganu beginning next Friday.
The inquiry, which will be held from Dec 14 to 16 in Kuala Terengganu’s Primula Beach Resort – located near where the incident took place – will specifically focus on whether the use of live bullets against protesters is justified.
Suhakam commissioner Muhammad Shafee Abdullah will be heading the three-member panel, which will also include Prof Khoo Kay Kim and Asiah Abu Samah.
Last month, in a dramatic about-turn, the human rights commission said that it would hold an inquiry on the riot despite earlier ruling it out due to legal restrictions.
The Sept 8 ceramah in Kuala Terengganu organised by polls watchdog Bersih turned unruly when the police stopped it on the grounds that the ceramah was unlawful.
According to Shafee, the commission had decided on holding an inquiry after it found that the police did not investigate the shooting incident but instead focused on the issue of illegal assembly, in which a number of people were arrested and charged.
He said that while the usage of live bullets may have been investigated by the police as part of their probe on the illegal assembly, there has not been a proper probe on the matter.
Four shots fired
In the Sept 8 incident, two men were shot when a policeman discharged his firearm four times. The police claimed that it was done in self-defence as the policeman was attacked by a mob armed with sticks.
However, this version has been disputed.
“Suhakam views that the usage of live ammunition at public assembly with great concern,” said the organsation in a press statement last month.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are:
* To inquire on the circumstances of the situation and the justifiability of the usage and discharge of live ammunition into the crowd by police personnel where person or persons were consequently injured and whether it is a violation of human rights.
* If violation of human rights occurred, to determine:
a) Which person or persons or agency was or were responsible
b) How did such violation come about and the nature of the violation
c) What administrative directives and procedures or arrangements, if any, could have contributed to the violation
d) What measures should be recommended to be taken to ensure that such violation does not recur in future
The commission has urged witnesses to come forward and aid the panel in its investigation. It had earlier said that a report from the inquiry will be ready at the end of the month.
Suhakam's 'live bullet' inquiry begins on Dec 14