KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 ― Suspected criminals will say just about anything to get themselves out of hot water, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said today after he was accused of lying about the cause of the weekend riots at Low Yat Plaza here.
He was responding to an allegation yesterday by a lawyer for a suspect nabbed in connection with the bloody brawls and vandalism at the popular tech mall in the city that left at least five injured.
“People who are arrested, they will say anything to get themselves out of it. If we want to believe someone who has been accused and tested positive to have drugs in his urine, then go ahead and believe.
“Everything they will say they are in the right and they are not wrong, the police are the ones who are wrong,” he said during the Ops Selamat Campaign press conference at the Gombak Toll Plaza today.
He added that the suspect’s lawyer, Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, may also have ulterior motives for accusing the IGP of lying.
“The lawyer also has alternate intentions, bad intentions. A smart lawyer wouldn’t do that,” he said.
Lawyer Mohd Khairul had accused the IGP yesterday of lying when the latter said the friend of an alleged mobile phone thief spread the rumours that sparked the riots.
The lawyer, who is representing the companion of a man charged with stealing a mobile phone at the mall, also said the national police chief was wrong to state that the duo went to a shop to commit theft.
Mohd Khairul also described Khalid’s remark that the alleged accomplice had spread false rumours that a vendor sold a fake phone to his friend as “prejudicial” to his client.
To date, 24 people have been arrested in over the Low Yat melee, including controversial blogger Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, better known as Papagomo.
The riot reportedly started after 22-year-old Shahrul Anuar Abdul Aziz was handed over to the police for allegedly stealing a RM800 phone from a store at the popular tech mall.
The IGP said on Monday that Shahrul’s friend, who was also nabbed but later released, had contacted their other friends and the group returned to the mobile phone store, smashed it up and assaulted its workers.
After the alleged theft, rumours spread on social media that the Chinese trader had sold the Malay youth a counterfeit phone, leading to calls to boycott the “cheating” Chinese traders and the complex itself.
The situation turned even uglier when riots broke out at the complex Sunday night over the incident, leaving five people injured, including three from the Chinese media.
Yesterday, Shahrul pleaded not guilty at a Magistrate’s Court to the alleged theft that is punishable under Section 380 of the Penal Code.
If convicted, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term and a fine, with subsequent offences punishable by imprisonment and fine or whipping.