Wasn’t me, says Zahid after police named culprit in duo’s disappearance

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has distanced himself from the mysterious disappearance of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh, following findings by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today that the duo had been abducted by the police’s Special Branch.

Zahid, who was also the home minister in charge of the police, said neither he nor the former government was involved in their disappearance.

“There was no such directive given by me or the ministry’s secretary-general,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

“I hope the investigation will be carried out professionally,” he said.

Zahid said he respected the Suhakam findings, but also called for the police force to be respected.

In announcing the findings of its inquiry into Amri and Koh’s disappearance, Suhakam today held Bukit Aman’s Special Branch responsible and said the duo were victims of “enforced disappearance”.

Amri, who co-founded an NGO called Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016. His wife said that five vehicles had blocked his car before he was whisked away, some 500 metres from their home in Bukit Chabang, Perlis.

There have been suggestions that Amri was targeted over his alleged leanings towards Shia Islam, the school of thought branded as “deviant” by Malaysian Islamic authorities.

Koh was abducted from his car by a group of more than 10 men on Feb 13, 2017.

CCTV footage showed at least three black vehicles were involved in the abduction. Many speculated that his abduction might have been connected to his alleged attempts at spreading Christianity, although his family has dismissed such claims.

Then inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar had then denied suggestions that police were involved in Koh’s abduction, dismissing them as conspiracy theories.

Police have repeatedly denied responsibility for his disappearance, but arrested a 31-year-old and charged him with kidnapping Koh.

Koh’s family had offered a reward of RM100,000 for information of his whereabouts.

In May last year, Amri’s wife Norhayati Mohd Ariffin claimed she was approached by a police informer who told her that both Koh and her husband were taken by a team from Bukit Aman.