KUALA LUMPUR: A witness to the abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh told the High Court the 2017 incident appeared to have been “professionally done”.
Roeshan Celestine Gomez, who is also a lawyer, said the abduction took place in less than one minute, adding that he was in the vicinity because he was driving his friend to the Kampung Tunku crematorium.
“As my car was exiting Jalan Bahagia, I saw a commotion in front of us. There were about four sports utility vehicles (SUVs) that surrounded a silver Proton Waja.
“Five men, who were masked and wore black military outfits, appeared to be pulling a man out of the Waja,” Gomez told the court today.
He said the man resisted, while Gomez’s friend tried to record the incident with her phone.
“A man appeared in front of my car, looking agitated. He told her to stop recording and signalled us to leave.
“Another man then approached my car in a lively fashion. He was unarmed and told me to reverse my car,” he said, adding that he did what he was told.
Gomez said that as he reversed his car, he saw someone else recording the abduction with a phone.
An hour later, he said, he went to the Kelana Jaya police station to lodge a report on the abduction. He said a police officer, whom he identified as Ali Asra, recorded his statement.
“As he (Ali) was taking my statement, he made a comment that the modus operandi appeared to be a police operation, as it took place in broad daylight, with (a person taking a) video recording, and the entire setup appeared to be very professional,” he said.
He said Ali told him he would call around to inquire whether it was a police operation.
“I was (feeling) a bit relieved that what I saw could be a police operation and not an actual kidnapping,” he said.
Gomez said that the following day, he received WhatsApp messages about Koh’s abduction at that same place.
“Ali also called and told me to meet him at the police station, where he asked me additional questions on the incident.
“We also did a physical re-enactment of the scene. I asked Ali who he thought might have abducted the victim.
“He replied that it could be the work of religious extremists,” he said.
Gomez also said he met another officer, Supari Muhammad, to do “photofits” or reconstruct images of those men.
“I met him again in July, when he called me and my friend to attend an identification parade, to seek out potential suspects.
“None of them resembled those men we saw.
“I asked Supari why we were called for the identification parade. He said the police raided a house in Kedah, where they found the pastor’s car number plate,” he said.
On Feb 12, 2020, Koh’s wife, Susannah Liew, filed a lawsuit against the police, the inspector-general of police and a number of former high-ranking police officers over his disappearance.
The list includes former IGPs Khalid Abu Bakar and Fuzi Harun, and former principal assistant director of the Special Branch’s social extremism division, Awaludin Jadid.
The others named in the lawsuit are former CID chief Huzir Mohamed, former Selangor CID chief Fadzil Ahmat, and police officers Supari, Khor Yi Shuen, Hazril Kamis, Shamzaini Daud and Saiful Bahari Abdul Aziz.
Liew is seeking damages over Koh’s disappearance, as well as for the authorities to be held liable for his unlawful abduction, and for misfeasance in public office.
Senior federal counsel Nurul Farhana Khalid told the court she needed about two hours to cross-examine Gomez.
“We will inform the court on what our response to counsel Jerald Gomez’s suggestion for a site visit will be,” she said.
Earlier, lead counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar, in his opening statement, said the plaintiff will call five witnesses.
“It is our case that Koh was abducted by state agents, for which the government is vicariously liable,” he said.
Suhakam held a public inquiry into the disappearance of Koh and activist Amri Che Mat between 2017 and 2019.
It concluded that Koh and Amri were victims of enforced disappearance carried out by the state, specifically by the Special Branch.
The hearing before judicial commissioner Su Tiang Joo continues tomorrow.