Pastor Koh inquiry adjourned as SB witness on medical leave

Special Branch officer Awaluddin Jalid, the last witness in the inquiry into Pastor Raymond Koh’s disappearance.

KUALA LUMPUR: A year-long inquiry by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) into the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh has been adjourned to December to allow a key police witness from Bukit Aman to testify.

Special Branch officer Awaluddin Jalid is said to be on medical leave until end November.

Suhakam commisioner Mah Weng Kwai said he hoped the delay would not be misinterpreted, adding that his team had been accused of not doing anything in solving the mystery of Koh’s abduction in February last year.

“Can you assure us that no one, especially from the (Koh) family, will go around saying we are taking a mighty long time, more than a year and just sitting on our bums doing nothing?” said Mah, adding that Suhakam had no control over the delay on Koh’s case, concurrently heard alongside two other cases of missing persons.

“I want assurance that this goes out to the family and the people advising the family,” Mah said to Jerald Gomez, the lawyer representing Koh’s family.

Today is the 19th day of the inquiry into Koh’s disappearance.

His abduction on Feb 13 last year was caught on closed circuit TV cameras, showing several men in balaclavas using black SUVs to block his car in broad daylight in Kelana Jaya.

He has not been seen since.

Many have speculated that Koh’s abduction is connected to his alleged attempts to spread Christianity, which his family members have denied.

The police arrested a 31-year-old man earlier this year and charged him with kidnapping Koh.

The charge meant that Suhakam’s inquiry could not be continued, and it was halted until several weeks ago, following outcry from the Koh family.

The inquiry will consider, among others, whether the cases of Koh, Amri Che Mat, as well as Pastor Joshua Hilmy and wife Ruth, were cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance as defined by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Amri, 44, who co-founded charity organisation Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24 in 2016.

The inquiry was told that five vehicles had blocked the path of Amri’s car before he was whisked away just 550 metres from his home.

Joshua and his wife, Ruth, meanwhile, were last seen on Nov 30 in 2016.

Taking the witness stand today was Bukit Aman CID deputy director Huzir Mohamed, who took part in a raid on Koh’s purported abductors near the Malaysia-Thailand border.

Last June, then inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar said several documents and pictures relating to Koh were found at the safe house in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, including Koh’s physical license plate.

Asked today by Gomez if the plate “ST5515D” was found at the Pengkalan Hulu safehouse as said by Khalid, Huzir said only pictures of the plate was discovered.

Huzir said other plates were discovered in Baling, Kedah, where an earlier police shootout led to the death of a suspected arms and drugs smuggler related to Koh’s case, but they did not bear the ST5515D registration number.

Four items of interest were said to be found at the safehouse, including the license plate, a picture of Koh’s car, a picture of his home in Selangor, and another photograph of himself.

These are included in the police’s search list of seized items at the safe house, which was produced in the inquiry today after Huzir was requested to do so previously, and which FMT has sighted.

These items were not listed in a police press statement released the day after the raid on June 18, although other items such as a detonated bomb and bullets seized by the police were listed.

Huzir had previously said the police had chosen not to disclose the information to the public because they were concerned their case would be jeopardised and for Koh’s safety.

Huzir had also then said that he had been called to assist in a bomb detonation at the Pengkalan Hulu safe house but never actually went inside the house or saw the purported pictures.

Quizzed then as to whether there was any way of proving the pictures had been found in the house during the raid in Perak, which was sealed off with police tape, Huzir said nobody could answer that question.

The inquiry for the Koh case will continue on Dec 7, while the inquiry for Amri’s case will resume on Oct 31.