KUALA LUMPUR, May 30, 2019 : A lawyer has accused Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas of making a decision without legal basis when he ordered lawyer Syazlin Mansor to withdraw from the inquest into the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
Aidil Khalid, who is a member of Concerned Lawyers for Justice also described the AG’s handling of the matter as “high handed” because Syazlin was only ordered to withdraw after her involvement in the inquest for 36 days.
“And the objection only came after she called the senior forensic pathology consultant Prof Shahrom Abd Wahid as expert witness who testified that scientific evidence pointed to Adib was indeed murdered at the Seafield Temple riot,” wrote Aidil, in an article published by The Malaysian Insight,
He also argued that it was misguided and without legal basis for Thomas to claim that Syazlin was in a position of conflict of interest if she was to continue representing the Housing and Local Government Ministry, Fire Department and Adib’s family.
“The interest of all parties in an inquest is to find the truth. An inquest is not a criminal trial, for there is no prosecution and there is no defense; likewise, there will be no winning or losing party at the end of the proceeding,” pointed Aidil.
He also noted that while the power to establish an inquest is derived from Section 339 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the procedures governing proceedings are spelled out in the Practice Direction No. 2 of the Judiciary dated April 8, 2014.
“Paragraph B of Enclosure A states that “there are no ‘parties’ to an inquest;” while paragraph E stresses the “inquisitorial” nature of an inquest, and not adversarial,” he added.
Aidil also pointed out that it was without basis for Thomas to complain about Syazlin taking an active part in the inquest and she often contradicted the positions of the Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC) and deputy public prosecutors (DPPs), thus causing embarrassment in her capacity as the Ministry’s lawyer.
He said this was so because the DPPs and AGC should not, in the first place, prematurely take any position with regard to the cause of death, be that by accident or homicide, before the proceeding ends.
“Those who follow the proceedings of the inquest would notice that Syazlin represented the ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department well, as reflected by the statement issued by the political secretary to the Housing Minister dated May 28, which expressed the Ministry’s gratitude to her excellent service that was rendered pro bono.
“One would also note that in the course of proceedings, the expert witness Dr Shahrom had pointed out many loopholes, inadequacies and half-hearted work in the investigation, and had suggested that the Attorney-General’s Chamber consider instructing further investigations be held so as to tighten up the case,” wrote Aidil.
He added that the AG and his office should have “an open mind”, instead of being too quick to conclude that Adib was not murdered.
“It is concerning enough that we have an AG that is making a travesty of our justice system. It is even more worrying that we have an AG that is so ignorant of the law, that he could not even discern the difference between a fact-finding mission on the one hand, with that of a trial on the other,” he added.