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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Tan Sri Tommy Thomas described the coroner court’s ruling of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death, which stated it was due to a criminal act by two or three persons, as “bizarre.”
A report by local news portal The Vibes was quoting from the former attorney general’s recently-published book My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.
Thomas said he found coroner Rofiah Mohamad’s findings unusual as he was briefed by the police that foul play had been ruled out as Adib’s cause of death, following detailed
investigations by different police units.
“In late September 2019 the coroner released her findings. She decided that two or three persons had caused the death of Adib. It is mind-boggling that she arrived at this conclusion, when police, with their experience, expertise, manpower and resources, could not.
“The coroner was also specific; two or three persons. Why not one? Why not five or more?” he wrote.
The coroner court’s decision resulted in officers from the Attorney General’s Chambers requesting that Thomas file an appeal against the findings at the High Court.
Stating that although he believes Rofiah’s findings and reasoning to be wrong, Thomas added that he ultimately decided not to appeal as the coroner’s decision was for the police to resume their investigations.
“The inspector-general of police immediately responded that the file had never been closed, and that police will continue investigating. I had no objections to this course of action,” Thomas said.
In the book, he also expressed shock upon learning that private legal practitioner Syazlin Mansor also represented Adib’s family for the inquest into his death. Syazlin was also a representative for the Housing and Local Government Ministry as well as the Fire and Rescue Department.
As such he contacted its minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to request that she revoke Syazlin’s appointment as representative.
“To compound matters, the husband of the private practitioner (Syazlin) selected by Zuraida was employed as her press secretary. If such conflict of interest raised eyebrows, a worse conflict arose between the lawyer’s duty to Adib’s family and that to the Housing Ministry and Fire Department.
“The interests of these three parties did not coincide: On the contrary, they diverged,” Thomas argued, adding that Syazlin should have realised it would have been unacceptable to act for all three parties.
Looking at the matter more closely, he discovered that during the inquest, Syazlin often took positions in contradiction to those taken by deputy public prosecutors, which in turn caused embarrassment to the ministry and Fire Department which she also represented.
Although Thomas did not object if the private legal practitioner wanted to continue in representing Adib’s family, he said her decision to withdraw completely from the inquest towards the end was purely her choice.
“That decision was made by her, for reasons known to her. We were not responsible for that decision. I issued a statement on May 28, 2019, announcing the dropping of the private practitioner as a lawyer for the housing minister and Fire Department.
“That raised a storm of protest, and subsequently, the institution of contempt proceedings against me,” he wrote.
Thomas added that at the time of writing his book, the contempt proceedings brought by Adib’s family were pending at the Court of Appeal.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said in August last year that a proposal for a second inquest into Adib’s death was awaiting the approval of current Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Azizan Harun.
The 24-year old fireman sustained serious injuries during a riot at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya on November 27, 2018. Although he regained consciousness several days later, he eventually died on December 17 that year at the National Heart Institute in KL.
Thomas’ 573-page book is now available for purchase via Gerakbudaya’s website.