Review kidnapping charge in Pastor Koh’s case, says CAGED

Relatives and supporters of Pastor Raymond Koh, including from CAGED, gather outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya to hand over a memorandum on Feb 13.

PETALING JAYA: Civil society group Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) has called for a review of the case against an individual accused of kidnapping Raymond Koh, in light of the Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) findings in its inquiry into the pastor’s abduction more than two years ago.

In a statement, CAGED said Lam Chang Nam was charged with kidnapping Koh 18 months ago, on Jan 15, 2018. It added that the trial was deferred twice pending a decision by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on whether to proceed.

It said it had since learnt that Lam’s trial will only resume in December as the magistrate is going on maternity leave.

“Under mandatory rules established by the chief registrar of the courts, the verdict should have been decided on Jan 14, 2019 (within 12 months of the date of charge),” it said.

“The verdict is overdue by six months and on track to be overdue by one year.”

Having closely monitored the Suhakam inquiry, CAGED said, it was no surprise that the AGC is “ever-vacillating”.

“Much evidence adduced during the inquiry raises more than reasonable doubt that Lam is guilty of kidnapping.”

For the charge against Lam to hold, it said, the AGC must be persuaded that Fadzil Ahmat, who led the task force investigating Koh’s disappearance, now believes that there is new evidence reversing what he told the inquiry on March 14, 2017.

CAGED said Fadzil had told the inquiry: “Investigation revealed that the suspect (Mr Lam) had nothing to do with the case and only tried to take advantage of the victim’s family.”

CAGED said it was confident that a review would allow the focus to be restored on finding “the real culprits and their state abettors”.

Koh has been missing since Feb 13, 2017. In April, the Suhakam inquiry concluded that he and activist Amri Che Mat were victims of enforced disappearance.

The panel also said directive and circumstantial evidence in Koh’s case proved that he was abducted by the Special Branch.