5 reasons why Zamri Yahya should withdraw from task force on missing persons

CAGED notes that despite public outrage, Zamri Yahya, head of the Internal Affairs Department (IAD/JIPS) of the police, has not withdrawn from the bogus “task force” to probe the conclusion of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that the Special Branch of the police was behind the disappearances of social activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh.

CAGED reminds Zamri, Inspector-General of Police Hamid Bador and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that the police were on trial during the Suhakam inquiry into the disappearances of Amri and Koh. This is because the inquiry was a response to public perception that the police were not serious about finding the victims and their abductors. If the IAD wasn’t paying attention, it was sleeping on the job.

CAGED also reminds Hamid and Muhyiddin that the inquiry was rigorous and fair and that the police have never claimed it was not.

Over 15 months, from October 2017 to December 2018, many issues of misconduct – such as withholding information, fabricating evidence, acting without authority and making false reports –were seen in evidence given by many police officers. Some are included in the inquiry’s reports.

The report on Koh, over a mere 12 pages, records at least five issues concerning serving police officers:

1. Inspector Khor Yue Shuen, the investigating officer in the Amri case, feigned ignorance of the name and occupation of the owner of a golden Toyota Vios which features in both abductions. Khor’s initial claim that he “could not remember” that the owner was an employee of the police is not credible because he even knew the car had been photographed – by police personnel whom he dispatched – in a police compound. The owner was Saiful Bahari, a contract employee of the police force. Khor told the inquiry that Saiful was an administrative assistant. Later, Saiful’s supervisor, ASP Mohd Azizie “gave the [inquiry] the impression” that Saiful was “a handyman who did cleaning and maintenance work” (Paragraphs 123-126).

2. ASP Mohd Azizie told the inquiry Saiful had taken 54 days of leave and that he gave him leave beyond his entitlement because he “had requested for it”. The panel concluded that “the purported explanation by ASP Mohd Azizie was not a satisfactory explanation” (Raymond Report Paragraph 127).

3. CPO Asri Yusoff, SAC Fadzil Ahmat, Supt Hazril Kamis, CP Huzir Mohammad, ASP Supari Muhammad. Evidence in the case of Fauzi Tajuddin, a suspect who was shot dead by the police, is “riddled with potholes” because of differences in the testimonies of these five officers:

“The panel finds that the evidence given by several police officers on the seizure of the items allegedly relating to Pastor Raymond Koh is full of inconsistencies and material contradictions. The convoluted accounts of how the items allegedly relating to Pastor Raymond Koh were seized seemed incredulous and an affront to common sense and logic. What should have been a straightforward account of who did what and when leading up to the seizure of the items has been so distorted that the evidence simply cannot be accepted as being credible” (Paragraph 138).

4. Supt Hazril Kamis claimed he was sole author of a search list. However, the panel noted: “the writing below his signature in Exhibit 107A, B and C differ substantially from the handwriting listing out the items seized” (Paragraph 139.2).

5. Sgt Mohd Shamzaini Mohd Daud, on May 30, 2018, lodged a police report in Perlis in which he denied information which Amri’s wife Norhayati Mohd Ariffin disclosed in a police report she lodged in Shah Alam on May 15, 2018. Norhayati said in her report that the information she disclosed had been provided to her by Shamzaini. The inquiry examined Norhayati, Shamzaini and others to determine who was telling the truth. The panel wrote: “The panel is of the view that Sgt Shamzaini’s evidence contradicted the testimony of several witnesses” (Paragraph 148). The panel discussed the evidence over five pages in the report. The pages are peppered with words such as contradicted, incongruous, absurd, illogical, confusion, inconsistencies, odd.

All the issues had emerged by Dec 7, 2018, seven months ago. Was the IAD monitoring the inquiry? Have at least the above five issues been formally investigated? Have Inspector Khor, ASP Mohd Azizie, CPO Asri, SAC Fadzil, Supt Hazril, CP Huzir, ASP Supari and Sergeant Shamzaini been questioned?

Any action or inaction by the police against the above-named officers must fall within the scope of the task force.

The mission of the Integrity and Standards Department includes acting as an Internal Affairs Department, to seek out and address potential misconduct by officers. Clearly Zamri, the serving head of IAD, is an interested party.

CAGED calls upon Zamri to withdraw honourably, like his former colleague Mokhtar has.

CAGED calls upon other members of the “task force” to recognise that the five issues listed above show that Zamri’s nomination signals that their collective has zero public credibility. All should withdraw.

Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) is a civil society group.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.