KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — A police observer had to publicly apologise to the family lawyer of Pastor Raymond Koh for accusing the counsel of fabricating evidence in a Human Rights Commission Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry into Koh’s disappearance.
ASP Nuzulan Mohd Din claimed that a photograph from Berita Harian Singapore’s website, which depicted two Malaysian police officers in black balaclava without Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) insignia arresting a suspect, was fabricated by lawyer Jerald Gomez.
He then threatened to take action against Gomez under Section 192 of the Penal Code. Section 192 that covers fabricating evidence in a judicial proceeding and that is punishable by a seven-year prison term.
“PDRM’s investigated the website and we found that it had a different photograph instead of what was submitted by the lawyers.
“When we went to the website and typed in the article’s headline, there was a different picture,” said Nuzulan, adding that he believed Gomez “cut and paste” another picture onto the news article.
The photograph in question was submitted earlier during a cross examination of a police officer involved in investigating Koh’s disappearance, when Gomez asked if one of the uniforms used by the Malaysian police did not have any insignia.
Nuzulan further said that Gomez tried to “mislead” (mengelirukan) the inquiry and demanded that the photograph and any evidence given by witnesses based on the photograph be expunged from the inquiry.
The Criminal Investigation Department Division Five officer then showed the three-member panel chaired by Datuk Mah Weng Kwai the same article that had a different photograph: three police officers in black balaclava which clearly showed PDRM’s insignia.
“PDRM finds this to be a serious matter and that the lawyer tried to ‘mislead’ (mengelirukan) the evidence which is a serious offence under Section 192 of the Penal Code and PDRM will take further action against the lawyer,” said Nuzulan.
However, Gomez and his team quickly rebutted Nuzulan’s claims and showed the panel and the inquiry that there were two pictures in the same news article, and one of them was the one he submitted.
The confusion stemmed from the fact that a reader had to scroll through the pictures available in the article, something which the police did not realise.
Gomez’s colleague, Gurdial Singh Nijar, then demanded an apology from Nuzulan and requested that he retract his accusation that the photograph was “misleading”.
Nuzulan apologised to Gomez over the “cut and paste” accusation but maintained that the single photograph submitted by the lawyer was “misleading” (mengelirukan) and that Koh’s legal team should have submitted both pictures as evidence.
Gurdial countered that the police had ample time to provide evidence to disprove any submission by the Koh family’s legal team during cross-examination, which they failed to do.
“Perhaps the panel can decide on this because we are disturbed that we are accused of misleading and I’ve never been accused of such because misleading leads to misconduct for lawyers.
“How can it be misleading when we asked if this outfit is one of the outfits worn by PDRM? We maintained our parameters. If we said this is the outfit of PDRM officers, then they can say it is misleading because there are others.
“We are saying this is one of many,” said Gurdial who requested that the panel make a ruling on the issue.
Mah called for a break and went into the chambers to deliberate over it with fellow panellists — commissioners Professor Datuk Aishah Bidin and Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Salleh. However, the panel refused to make any ruling over the matter.
When Mah refused to make a ruling, Gomez told the panel that he could not continue as counsel in the inquiry, claiming that “the Sword of Damocles” was hanging over his head, as he believed the police could accuse him of “misleading” the inquiry every time he submits new evidence.
After another impasse, Mah called lawyers from both sides of the divide for a private discussion and called for another break.
“For the record, what was discussed just now in the room next door is that ASP Nuzulan has explained that when he used the word ‘mengelirukan’, he didn’t mean ‘misleading’, but that the photograph can be confusing.
“That explanation was accepted and we can put an end to this allegation of misleading. It looks like time has caught up with us and we will resume tomorrow at 9am,” Mah said after resuming the inquiry.
The inquiry today had scheduled for Selangor’s Criminal Investigation Department chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat Said to be examined.