Malaysia

RCI rules Beng Hock committed suicide

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — A royal commission has ruled that Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide as a result of pressure from aggressive and continuous questioning by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers.

The MACC officers had wanted to pressure Teoh to be a witness in their case against a DAP assemblyman for alleged abuse of public funds.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri Aziz disclosed the finding today which, he said, was unanimous.

Nazri holds copies of the RCI report in Parliament on July 21, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy MayNazri holds copies of the RCI report in Parliament on July 21, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy May“The result of the Commission’s investigations shows that TBH was not murdered but that he felt burdened and pressured by the aggressive and continuous questioning session, supported by his weak character, had caused him to commit suicide,” he told a news conference in Parliament today.

“The facts on the suicide were supported by testimony from a psychiatric forensic expert, Professor Paul Edward Mullen, who was hired by the Bar Council. 

“Prof Mullen said TBH (Teoh Beng Hock) had truly committed suicide based on his character that had changed from a low-risk group to a high-risk group for suicide after undergoing a continuous and aggressive questioning session,” he said.

The royal commission of inquiry (RCI) also found three MACC investigating officers involved in the case to have used “continuous, aggressive and improper questioning tactics on TBH which had breached its existing standard operating procedures”. 

It recommended that action be taken specifically against the three MACC officers.

The RCI also made three recommendations to the MACC: to improve its entry qualifications and officer training programme, to improve the infrastructure and office facilities and to review its existing procedures to be more comprehensive and effective.

Nazri told reporters the government would leave it to the police to take the necessary action against the three MACC officers.

He said the police would have to open an investigation and take the matter up with the Attorney-General’s Chambers for any potential prosecution.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen submitted on June 22 the report by the RCI into Teoh’s death two years ago.

The five-man RCI wrapped up its report on June 15 after having heard testimony from 70 witnesses in its bid to unravel the mysterious circumstances behind Teoh’s death.

The 30-year-old DAP political aide was found dead on July 16, 2009 on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he was questioned overnight by MACC officers at their then-Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor.

The coroner’s inquest had in January returned an “open verdict” ruling out both suicide and homicide some 18 months after Teoh’s death.

The government was then forced to establish the RCI, which first met in February, with two terms of reference: to probe how Teoh plunged to his death and to look into MACC’s investigative methods.

Foong also said only three copies of the report were prepared, one each for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and himself.

The other four members of the RCI were retired Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, former Court of Appeals judge T. Selventhiranathan, Penang Hospital senior consultant forensic pathologist Bhupinder Singh and Mohamed Hatta Shaharom who is dean of the Cyberjaya Medical Science College University and a consultant forensic psychiatrist.

The report will be on sale from 10am tomorrow at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.

The 124-page report is retailing at RM45 a copy and is available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.

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