Zahid Hamidi: Any new charges in fireman Adib's case should be for murder, not rioting; second inquest a waste of time

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Section 143 of the Penal Code punishes those involved in an illegal assembly, where the offender is only sentenced to imprisonment of not more than six months, or a fine, or both. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Section 143 of the Penal Code punishes those involved in an illegal assembly, where the offender is only sentenced to imprisonment of not more than six months, or a fine, or both. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today expressed his scepticism about the government’s decision to charge 12 new suspects for rioting, in the case of Fire and Rescue Department officer Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, and the proposed second inquest into the latter’s death, under Section 339 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

In a statement, the former home minister said that Section 143 of the Penal Code punishes those involved in an illegal assembly, where the offender is only sentenced to imprisonment of not more than six months, or a fine, or both.

“This does not commensurate with the life of a civil servant who has been killed.

“Rightfully, the charge that should be imposed on those involved is an offence related to the crime of murder, as provided in Chapter 16 of the Penal Code and not an illegal assembly offence,” Zahid, who is also a former deputy prime minister, said.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin yesterday told the Dewan Rakyatthat the police have two new recommendations linked to Adib’s death, during a riot at a Hindu temple in Seafield, Selangor nearly two years ago.

He disclosed that the police have 12 new suspects whom they are recommending should be charged with rioting under Section 143 of the Penal Code.

“Two proposals were made. One, to charge 12 suspects under Section 143 of the Penal Code with rioting and attacking Fire Department officers.

“Secondly, hold another inquest if the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) agrees to it under Section 399 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC),” Hamzah said in the Dewan Rakyat, during his winding-up speech while debating the King’s royal address.

However, Zahid today lamented that the proposal for a second inquest seemingly negates the decision of the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court, which ruled in September 2019 that the cause of Adib’s death was due to criminal acts involving two or more unknown individuals.

“The additional proposal to hold the inquest, although allowed by law, clearly wastes time and further delays justice for the late Muhammad Adib and his family.

“What’s more, the offence that has been committed is a very serious crime against a civil servant who was on duty,” Zahid added.

On July 12, Adib’s next-of-kin expressed their disappointment with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.

Adib’s family reportedly said they had initially placed high hopes in the authorities conducting their investigation in a determined and transparent manner to identify Adib’s alleged killer or killers following the conclusion of the inquest by the Coroner’s Court last year.

The family’s statement came after Abdul Hamid proposed that a review committee be set up to look further into the sequence of events that led to the fatal injuries that killed Adib as the police did not have a strong case to charge anyone despite the inquest finding that Adib was the victim of a violent act.

The 24-year-old sustained serious injuries during a riot on November 27, 2018 at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in USJ25, Subang Jaya. He eventually succumbed to his injuries at the National Heart Institute on December 17, after three weeks in intensive care.

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