MACC officer ‘changing story too many times’

The Inquiry heard that there were too many indiscrepancies in the officer’s story.

KUALA LUMPUR:  Another Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer was taken to task for “changing his story too many times” at the Royal Commission of Inquiry investigating Teoh Beng Hock’s death today.

Klang MACC assistant enforcement officer Zulkefly Aziz, 44, was confronted on this by Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee.

“Why did you tell the police that you went home at 3.15am?” asked Cheow, who pointed out that Zulkefly had actually left the Selangor MACC office at 6.59am.

Cheow said the timing of Zulkefly’s departure from the MACC office was recorded on CCTV footages.

Zulkefly had earlier said he had gone to a surau on the 13th floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, to sleep and had napped from 3am to 6am on July 16, 2009.

Questioned by Cheow, Zulkefly said he realised the error in his statement a week after it was recorded.

RCI chairman James Foong then took Zulkefly to task for not correcting the error.

“Why didn’t you speak the truth? You were on the CCTV recording. You realised your mistake but you have not corrected it until now. It is two years already,” said Foong.

Foong said that Zulkefly looked frightened and asked if anything happened that night, to which Zulkefly said: “Nothing happened.”

Commissioner Dr Mohd Hatta Shaharom asked Zulkefly : “Was it negligence or were you forgetful?”

Zulkefly replied: “It was negligence, I feel.”

He said he returned to the Klang MACC office at 10am on July 16 where he stayed for two hours in his room before heading home.

Zulkefly said he had initially gone there after leaving Plaza Masalam to clock in before heading home.

However, in a later testimony, Zulkefly admitted that he did not go into the office at 10am as he said earlier, sparking queries.

“Did anything happen between 3am and 6am? Why did you lie? If you went home, say you went home,” said Foong, to which Zulkefly responded that nothing happened.

He testified that he did not clock out of the Klang MACC office on July 16, and agreed with Hatta that he did not inform his superior.

Mental torture

Commissioner Abdul Kadir Sulaiman also commented on Zulkefly’s testimony: “The reason you come here is to assist us to find out how Teoh died. The problem now is we can’t find the answers from you. The possibility is that you know a lot or you saw what happened as you kept changing stories. Tell us the truth.”

Commissioner T Selventhiranathan also questioned Zulkefly on these discrepancies.

“You didn’t want to get involved in what was happening that night? Why is your story so strange?” asked Selventhiranathan, to which Zulkefly said: “Nothing happened”.

Asked about the questioning of witnesses, Zulkefly said that such questioning is rarely done at night.

He agreed with Cheow that putting a witness in a room with many officers and confiscating their phones was a form of mental torture.
When questioned by MACC laywer Masri Daud, he told the commission that he was not trying to hide anything.

Zulkefly also said there is no need to use force against suspects of white-collar crime as evidence is all documentary.

Teoh, a political aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong, was found dead on July 16, 2009, on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.

He was interrogated the night before by MACC officers at their office, located on the 14th floor of the same building. They were investigating alleged misuse of state allocations.

On Jan 5 this year, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict after an inquest, ruling out both suicide and homicide.

Subsequently, the government caved in to public pressure and established the commission now in session. It is investigating both the cause of Teoh’s death and if there were any impropriety in MACC’s interrogation of Teoh.

The inquiry is scheduled to end June 25 whereby a report will be submitted to the King. Hearing resumes tomorrow.

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