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Malaysian police behind disappearance of activists, says local human rights body

Malaysian police behind disappearance of activists, says local human rights body

Announcement on the inquiry findings on April 3, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/Human Rights Commission of Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR: Police were involved in the disappearance of pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat, said a report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) on Wednesday (Apr 3), as their distraught families continue to pine for their safe return.

SUHAKAM said the two men were “victims of enforced disappearance”.

"The direct and circumstantial evidence in pastor Raymond Koh's case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by state agents, namely the special branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur," SUHAKAM's report read. 

Malaysia's former deputy premier and UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (C) in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 25, 2018 (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

In an immediate response, then home minister overseeing the police force, Mr Zahid Ahmad Hamidi, denied ordering the police to abduct the activists, The Star reported.

“There was no such directive given by me or the ministry’s chief secretary. I hope the investigation will be carried out professionally,” he told journalists at the parliament.

Mr Amri, the founder of a non-governmental organisation Perlis Hope, disappeared after he left his home in Kangar, Perlis, at 11.30pm on Nov 24, 2016 in his SUV.

He was earlier investigated for allegedly spreading Shia teachings. The Malaysia Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) said all branches of Shia teachings deviate from Sunni Islam practised in Malaysia and violate Islamic law. 

READ: Still missing one year on, wife of abducted Malaysian pastor pleads for his release 


Pastor Raymond Koh: (Photo: Raymond Koh's family)

Mr Koh, who founded non-profit organisation Harapan Komuniti (translated as the Hope Community), was kidnapped from his car by a group of men in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13, 2017. His abduction was linked to accusations of him proselytising Muslims.

Adding to the mystery of the abductions was the disappearance of a couple around the same time. Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his Indonesian wife Ruth Sitepu were reportedly missing since November 2016 in Malaysia.

The inquiry into Mr Koh’s disappearance concluded in December 2018, over a year since it was launched. A total of 16 witnesses – including former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar – gave their testimony.

SUHAKAM’s inquiry into Mr Amri, meanwhile, closed in October last year.

READ: Malaysian police appeal for 'time and space' to probe pastor Raymond Koh's disappearance


In its reports on Wednesday, SUHAKAM recommended, among others, that a special task force be set up to re-open and re-investigate the disappearance of Mr Koh and Mr Amri as enforced disappearance cases. 

The task force should include independent investigators appointed by the attorney-general, it added. 

FAMILIES CALL FOR JUSTICE

Mr Koh's wife Susanna Liew said she was considering giving the government six months to take action before initiating a civil suit against the authorities, according to The Star

"We would like to see the perpetrators and those involved brought to book. We want to see justice and truth revealed."

"Today, we still do not know what actually happened to our husbands ... why they were taken," she said.

Mr Amri's wife Nurhayati Ariffin said amid tears: "What about our status? My children are still young. What is their status?"

Speaking to Malay Mail, inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said he would only offer his comments after reading SUHAKAM's inquiry report. 

“Let me read the report first before I can officially issue a statement on the matter,” he said. 

Source: CNA/bernama/tx(aw)

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