KUALA LUMPUR, June 12— Lawyer Syazlin Mansor said today that she will continue representing the family of the late Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim in the inquest into the firefighter’s death.
The lawyer, whom the attorney general (AG) told to withdraw from representing the Fire & Rescue Department and the Housing and Local Government Ministry in the inquest, also questioned why her appointment was disputed only when she brought in an expert witness who testified that Adib had been assaulted.
“The chronology of events that happened, in my opinion, clearly shows attempts to disturb the proceedings of the inquest, especially in relation to the testimony by expert witness Prof Dr Shahrom (Abd Wahid),” Syazlin told a press conference here organised by the Muslim Lawyers Association Malaysia.
She pointed to the police reports lodged by two forensic experts from Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) on April 20, who allegedly claimed that they were threatened by Dr Shahrom during a discussion between the expert witnesses on April 11 at the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue Station.
Dr Shahrom then filed a police complaint to rebut the allegations.
Syazlin’s key witness, retired pathologist Dr Shahrom, was the only witness who believed that Adib had likely been pulled out from his van and beaten up by the mob during riots at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya last November.
Forensic experts, Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi and Datuk Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood, however testified that the 24-year-old firefighter’s injuries were inconsistent with assault.
Syazlin said inquest conducting officer Faten Hadni Khairuddin, a deputy public prosecutor (DPP), had admitted to her on May 27, the day Syazlin withdrew from the inquest, that Attorney General Tommy Thomas was aware from the start that she represented three parties — the Fire and Rescue Department, the Housing and Local Government Ministry, and Adib’s family.
But Thomas did not object to it earlier because he believed that Syazlin would assist the inquest and act “bona fide” (in good faith), Syazlin quoted Faten Hadni as saying.
“I then asked when was it that the attorney general believed that I was not assisting the inquest and that I had acted ‘mala fide’ (in bad faith)? Miss Faten said it was when I frequently contradicted the position taken by the conducting officer and when I questioned the HKL experts’ theories,” said Syazlin.
Syazlin rebutted Thomas’ argument that she needed “fiat”, or written approval from the AG, to represent two government parties in the inquest, citing Section 379 of the Criminal Procedure Code that stated fiat was only needed to conduct an inquest.
“If the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department were represented by the deputy public prosecutor from the start, Prof Dr Shahrom would most certainly not have been called as a witness in the inquest, and a few pieces of material testimonial evidence to assist the inquest would not have surfaced.”
She disputed Thomas’ claim that her representing three parties created a conflict of interest, stressing that the issue of Adib’s family supposedly wanting to sue the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Fire and Rescue Department has never arisen.
“I want to stress that his family and the Fire and Rescue Department share the same opinion and reject the HKL experts’ theories,” said Syazlin.
The lawyer also refuted the AG’s reasoning about how she often contradicted the DPP during the inquest.
Syazlin pointed out that even during case management itself before the inquest started, she had clearly stated that the Housing and Local Government Ministry, the Fire and Rescue Department, and Adib’s family disagreed with the HKL experts’ theories and believed that criminal elements had caused the firefighter’s death.
“Secondly, why is the deputy public prosecutor, who is the inquest conducting officer, taking a stand? Shouldn’t the inquest conducting officer be neutral and not take a stand?”
Lastly, Syazlin criticised Thomas for bringing up the position of her husband, Ahmad Soffian Mohd Shariff, who was then Zuraida’s press secretary before he resigned on June 10, a year into the job.
“I believe this is an act that is maliciously intended to defame my and my husband’s good names.
“What is wrong for me, as a lawyer, to want to help the victim’s family and the Fire Department pro bono? I want to stress that I’m a criminal lawyer and my law firm only handles criminal cases. I was quite aggrieved when the attorney general dragged my husband into this issue.”