Teoh Beng Hock was still under custody when he died

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The MACC says that Teoh Beng Hock was released at 3.45am after a gruelling marathon interrogation session that lasted the whole night. But Teoh was not under arrest or even a suspect in a crime, says the MACC. He was merely a witness, and a very cooperative witness on top of that, claims the MACC.

If Teoh was merely a witness, as what they say, why was there a need to interrogate him throughout the night? Could not his interrogation have been done during normal working hours?

Even when under Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, the Special Branch is supposed to interrogate detainees during ‘office hours’. They are not allowed to interrogate detainees at night or outside ‘office hours’. And, in particular, detainees should not be subjected to marathon interrogation sessions or subjected to sleep depravation, a form of torture.

And these are ISA detainees, mind you, said to be ‘threats to national security’ and/or suspected ‘terrorists’. Yet there are certain rules to be observed. What more if one is merely a witness to a suspected crime, not even established yet whether a crime had or had not been committed?

But in Teoh’s case he was subjected to a marathon interrogation session and outside ‘office hours’ on top of that. He was subjected to sleep depravation. And he was not a detainee, he was not under arrest, and he was not a suspect in a crime, claims the MACC. He was merely a witness to a suspected crime, and a very cooperative witness too.

After Teoh’s statement was recorded he was released and allowed to go home at 3.45am, they say. He was supposed to return at 8.00am for the interrogation to continue. And he was supposed to go home and come back at 8.00am with some documents that the MACC required.

But Teoh decided instead to sleep on the sofa at the MACC office. At 6.00am he was alleged to have ‘disappeared’. He never returned at 8.00am for his interrogation to be continued. And the MACC never bothered to go look for their witness who had ‘absconded’. The pathologist says he died between 8.30-9.30am. But they never found his body until lunchtime.

Was Teoh released at 3.45am and allowed to go home, as what the MACC claims? Or was he still under custody right up to the time of his death around 8.30-9.30am?

Teoh was never released at 3.45am. He was still under custody right up to the time of his death at around 8.30-9.30am.

One very important point that many may have overlooked is that Teoh’s hand phone was not found on his body. His hand phone was still with the MACC. And the police confirmed this. And that hand phone is now with the police.

If Teoh had been released, his hand phone would have been in his pocket or beside his body (or on the sofa where he had slept). It would not have been in the ‘safekeeping’ of the MACC.

If the MACC had released Teoh at 3.45am but wanted to retain his hand phone then they would have had to issue a piece of paper listing down all Teoh’s property that was going to be retained for further investigation.

Assuming the MACC was going to retain Teoh’s hand phone then this paper would not only list down all the property to be retained but full details such as make, model, serial number, and so on.

In short, Teoh would walk out of the MACC office at 3.45am without his hand phone but with a piece of paper confirming whatever property the MACC was retaining for further investigation with full details of that property. And both Teoh and the MACC officer would have to sign this paper.

This provision comes under Section 33 of the MACCA.

And this is what the Act says:

Section 33(1): …any movable property which is the subject matter of an offence or evidence relating to the offence shall be liable to seizure.

Section 33(2): A list of all movable property seized pursuant to subsection (1) and of the places in which they are respectively found shall be prepared by the officer of the Commission affecting the seizure and signed by him.

Section 33(3): A copy of the list referred to in subsection (2) shall be served on the owner of such property or on the person from whom the property was seized as soon as possible.

In Teoh’s case, the list of moveable property seized under Section 33(1) of the MACCA was not issued nor served on him, which is a requirement under Section 33(2) and Section 33(3) of the MACCA. This confirms that Teoh was still under custody and was not released at 3.45am as claimed. If not, Teoh would have this paper on his body confirming that his hand phone had been retained by the MACC.

In short, Teoh died between 8.30am and 9.30am while still under the custody of the MACC. The statement that he was released at 3.45am is utter bullshit. Teoh would not walk out of the MACC office at 3.45am without his hand phone or at least a receipt that the MACC had confiscated his hand phone. This is a requirement under the MACCA. If not how would Teoh later prove that his hand phone was still with the MACC? He would need evidence of that.

Furthermore, what if they find incriminating evidence in his hand phone and Teoh later denies that it is his hand phone? The MACC would need to prove that they had confiscated Teoh’s hand phone to be able to use this evidence in court. And that would make the paper very crucial for both Teoh and the MACC. And both Teoh and the MACC would need to sign this paper for it to be valid.

The government wants to set up a Commission and Board of Inquiry to investigate Teoh’s death. The crucial question is: did Teoh die while still under custody or had he already been released by then? Our investigation shows Teoh was still under custody. And the absence of that piece of paper required under Section 33 of the MACCA proves it. Teoh’s hand phone was with the MACC when he died. If he had been released they would either return his hand phone or give him a receipt confirming they are retaining his hand phone. None were found on his body.

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