KUALA LUMPUR: Police today told the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry into the disappearance of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat, that the case could not be classified as a crime without the account of a reliable eyewitness.
The statement, made by ACP Roslan Ramli, appeared to shock Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai, who asked whether circumstantial evidence was taken into consideration.
“The wife reported him missing, the car was found with a broken window in a rather out of the ordinary place, and it cannot be classified as a crime because there’s no eyewitness?” he asked, to which Roslan replied, “Yes.”
“I’m surprised,” Mah said. “So if you find a dead man with a bullet wound in his head, you will not classify that as a crime if there is no eyewitness?”
Roslan, who had been chief of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Kangar police headquarters before being transferred to the Perlis contingent police headquarters, said that would of course be classified as murder but maintained that there was no strong evidence in Amri’s case.
“There was no eyewitness that could say for sure that he saw any indication of Amri being kidnapped.
“So my chief said he would place the case under missing persons first until there was stronger evidence.”
However, Roslan denied that Amri’s case would have been investigated differently if it was classified as a crime, saying every angle was being considered.
When shown a picture of the condition in which Amri’s car had been found, Roslan said in his opinion it was not strong enough evidence of a crime.
“There are still no witnesses who say they saw anything that suggests a kidnapping took place.”
When asked what was needed for a case to be classified as a crime, Roslah said if it was a murder, a body was needed, and if it was a kidnapping, a ransom note would be required.
At this point, Mah brought up the case of Sunny Ang Soo Suan, who was accused of murdering his girlfriend in the 1960s.
He said no body had been found, but Ang was nevertheless convicted and hanged.
Addressing the police observers, Mah said: “I’m sure you have studied Sunny Ang’s case. Do you need a body to prove there’s a murder? Please, tell me.”
Police observers however reiterated that there was no credible eye-witness account of Amri’s disappearance.
When asked who would have handled the case if it was classified as a crime, Roslan said it would most likely have been himself.
When questioned about the appointment of Inspector Khor Yi Shuen, a more junior officer, to the case, Roslan told Mah that he was in charge of monitoring Khor.
“I would receive orders from my chief, and Inspector Khor would receive orders from me and he would report to me,” he said.
Amri, who co-founded NGO Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016.
The Suhakam inquiry is also investigating the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, who were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.
The inquiry had also included the case of Pastor Raymond Koh, who has been missing since February last year after he was abducted by some 10 men in Petaling Jaya.
The inquiry into Koh’s case was discontinued after a suspect was charged in court with kidnapping the pastor. However, Mah ruled yesterday that Suhakam would carry on with the inquiry as the subject matter in court was not the same subject matter as the public inquiry.
A family lawyer later asked Roslan if he was aware of accusations that Amri was a Shia Muslim, and whether this could have resulted in “enemies” who might want to harm him.
“I suppose he was a Shia based on investigations, but I will not say for sure that he is a Shia,” Roslan said.
“As to whether he had any enemies because of this, that was also looked into and we spoke to his wife and his friends. We believe he did not have any enemies that would want to cause him harm.”