Lawyers raise suspicion of police involvement in Pastor Koh’s disappearance at inquiry

Lawyer Jerald Gomez noted contradictions in the gathering of evidence in the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers representing the family of missing Pastor Raymond Koh today said there is “more than enough” evidence to raise reasonable suspicion about police involvement in his disappearance.

Jerald Gomez, in his oral submissions today at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry, highlighted several points which, he said, raised such suspicion.

Jerald noted contradictions in the gathering of evidence, in reference to testimonies given by former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar and Superintendent Hazril Kamis, an officer with the Special Task Force On Organised Crime (Stafoc).

In June 2017, Khalid reportedly said police found compelling evidence that pointed to Koh’s kidnapping following a shootout with a suspected drug and arms smuggler in Kedah on June 17.

Four people were arrested following the shootout and they were taken to Kuala Lumpur where they were remanded.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Fadzil Ahmat, who led the task force to investigate Koh’s disappearance, had previously said they were arrested in connection with Koh’s abduction and were handed over by the Kedah police.

Further investigations also led police to raid a house in Kampung Selarong, Pengkalan Hulu, Perak.

Hazril, who had led the first team to search the home of the man in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, had told the inquiry that he had found the photographs when he searched the house.

“It is important to note that IGP Khalid testified and made it clear that the first team did not discover the photographs (of Koh, his house, and vehicle showing the number plate).

“It was the second team from Bukit Aman which investigated the dead suspect’s record and background and went back to the scene one or two days later that discovered the photographs,” he said, adding Khalid had confirmed this.

“Even the story that IGP Khalid narrated based on the finding of these photographs that there were four people in this group who were involved in the abduction of Pastor Koh, and the further storyline of the link to a group in Southern Thailand was flatly contradicted by Senior Assistant Commissioner Fadzil Ahmat, who led the task force, and Assistant Superintendent Supari, the investigating officer himself. They said these four people had nothing to do with the abduction.”

Due to these contradictions, Gomez raised the suspicion that the photographs could have been planted there, not discovered.

“That is why we have the various contradictions and the non-production of those photographs, although repeated requests were made by the chairman and the counsel,” he said.

Gomez further pointed out that the abduction of Koh was done below a minute by 15 masked men using seven vehicles.

“Based on the video, there were at least three black SUVs, a golden Toyota Vios and outriders in motorcycles involved in this special operation, including about 15 people, most of whom were in black outfits and balaclava with about three individuals in plain clothes.

“Clearly, this was not done by normal kidnappers but highly trained individuals,” he said.

Koh was reportedly abducted on Feb 13, 2017 in Petaling Jaya by a group of men in a convoy of cars while on his way to meet a friend, while Perlis Hope founder Amri Che Mat went missing on Nov 24, 2016 after leaving his home, also to meet a friend.

Koh was allegedly being investigated for attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity while the authorities suspected Amri of spreading Shia teachings through his civil society group Perlis Hope.

Earlier in the proceedings, Koh’s family lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijhar asserted that the statement by Norhayati Ariffin, the wife of Amri Che Mat, should be used in Koh’s case, pointing to several similarities between both cases.

The similarities include long periods of surveillance, a reference to Bukit Aman being involved in both cases, as well as the objective for the purported abduction – with Koh supposedly involved in proselytising and Amri carrying out deviationist activities.

“There should not be prejudice because we are not accusing anyone. We are trying to establish the truth behind the alleged kidnapping, whether there is complicity by higher-ups in the country.

“For all these reasons, it would be prudent for us to admit that evidence without having to call the person and have her repeat this all over again,” he said.

At the close of today’s proceedings, Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai fixed April 3 for decision.

When met after the inquiry, Susanna Liew and Norhayati, the wives of Koh and Amri respectively, said they were more convinced than ever that their husbands were victims of enforced disappearance.

In moving forward, Liew expressed hope for a new investigation team, which would be “impartial, have powers to prosecute, arrest, and even carry out raids to get documents classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).”

Liew added that she had yet to get a reply following a memorandum she and Norhayati had submitted to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.