Ex-high court judge to lead task force on Pastor Koh, Amri

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with Abdul Rahim Uda (second from right) who was named to head a task force on missing persons. They are flanked by Muhammad Bukhari Ab Hamid and Zamri Yahya, who were also named as members of the task force.

PUTRAJAYA: The government has named former High Court judge Abd Rahim Uda to lead a task force to follow up on findings by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) over the involvement of the Special Branch in the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.

The home ministry also announced five members of the task force: Mokhtar Mohd Noor, former director of legal department at PDRM; Zamri Yahya, director of the police’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department; Muhammad Bukhari Ab Hamid, director of operations at the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC); Mohd Sophian Zakaria, legal officer at the public prosecution division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers; and Mohd Russaini Idrus, secretary at the Police Force Commission (SPP) for the Home Affairs Ministry.

On April 3, Suhakam’s inquiry into the disappearance of Koh and Amri concluded that both men were victims of enforced disappearance.

It also named the Special Branch in Bukit Aman as the culprit behind their abductions.

Muhyiddin told a press conference at the home ministry that the task force would be given six months to come up with a report, which would be submitted to the minister and brought to Cabinet.

If the ongoing court case involving an individual charged in connection with Koh’s disappearance exceeds six months, he said, a decision would be made on extending the deadline for the report.

He said to avoid sub judice, the task force would look into Amri’s case first.

He also stressed that the task force is not a royal commission of inquiry, meaning that investigations may be internal.

“In both cases, it will be dealt with internally. I do not feel the necessity to make it public, but I leave it entirely to the chairman,” he said, adding however that the final report will be made public as it is a matter of public interest.

On whether the task force will question the 40 witnesses who testified during the Suhakam inquiry, Muhyiddin said it would be up to the task force to decide.

He added that those on the task force who are existing or former members of the police force are from independent departments and not the Special Branch.

“We do not want any assumptions about this task force being the police investigating the police,” he said. “That is why we have a former High Court judge leading it.”

He said the task force had been set up to look into the allegations in the Suhakam report.

“But beyond that, we want to discover the truth behind the disappearances.”

Task force chairman Abd Rahim said they hope to start meeting next week.