Batu Buruk duo charged: Suhakam disappointed

Dec 14, 07 (Malaysiakini)
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has expressed its disappointment with the authorities’ decision to charge two individuals in connection with the Batu Burok riot.

The commission’s open inquiry panel chairperson Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in a media statement, said the charges have caused the panel to call off its inquiry into the incident where live bullets were fired at the crowd.
He was referring to the charges laid against Suwandi Ghani and Muhammad Azlan on Dec 9 in Kuala Terengganu Sessions Court for causing injury to policeman Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Omar during the riots.
“Charging the duo just four days before the probe is very disappointing. We hope the police’s decision to charge them was not to prevent Suhakam from conducting its inquiry,” he said.
Section 12(2) and (3) of the Suhakam Act 1999 states that the commission shall not inquire into any complaint relating to any allegation of the infringement of human rights which is the subject matter of any proceedings pending in any court, including appeals or has been finally determined by any court.
Muhammad Shafie explained that the court proceeding will see witnesses’ statements on the shooting incident or the use of live bullets because the facts would be combined in the course of the same transaction; therefore, the commission had to cancel its inquiry into the incident.
‘Three-month wait’
He said the commission had conducted its initial inquiry from Nov 21 to 24 and recorded statements from 10 police officers and seven members of the public including Suwandi and Muhammad Azlan.
“Furthermore, we have also obtained all medical and chemical reports relating to the inquiry,” he said.
“We decided to initiate an inquiry into the incident after waiting for three months. We took up the matter only when no other parties, including the police and the attorney-general, did not take the matter to the court,” he said.
“On Nov 12, we announced to the press that an inquiry would be conducted. Unfortunately, from that day to Dec 9, the prosecution team did not give any hints that the two would be charged,” he said, adding that the last minute action of the prosecution team had prevented the commission from going on with its inquiry.
Muhammad Shafie said that the commission will also monitor the court proceedings of the case to ensure that they are in line with human rights principles.