AGC must clarify prosecuting and defending cops in detainee’s death, says lawyer for family

Lawyer M. Visvanathan (left) looks on as Syed Mohamed Nur Ali, father of Syed Mohd Azlan, speaks during a press conference at Suaram’s office in Petaling Jaya August 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Lawyer M. Visvanathan (left) looks on as Syed Mohamed Nur Ali, father of Syed Mohd Azlan, speaks during a press conference at Suaram’s office in Petaling Jaya August 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

PETALING JAYA, Aug 15 — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) must explain its conflicting actions in pushing to prosecute three policemen suspected of the 2014 fatal assault of a detainee while defending them in a civil lawsuit at the same time.

Lawyer M. Visvanathan, who is representing the family of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur, said he recently discovered the AGC was seeking a stay on civil proceedings filed against the three policemen pending the disposal of their criminal case.

“Yesterday, the trial for the civil case was supposed to begin and to my shock, the senior federal counsel from the AG’s Chambers submitted a notice to the court seeking a stay of proceedings in the civil matter pending the disposal of the criminal case appeal,” he told reporters at the Suaram office here today.

The lawyer noted that AGC, which also acts as the public prosecutor, had appealed in January against the acquittal of the three policemen after the High Court in Kota Tinggi, Johor freed them of the charge in December 2017. The acquittal appeal is set for hearing on August 20.

Visvanathan said he was further stunned when the government lawyer said the AGC will also defend the three policemen in their civil case filed by the family of Syed Mohd Azlan.

He added that the three policemen were represented by a private lawyer in the civil suit and not by senior federal counsel from the AGC.

“This is bizarre. You can’t have the AGC making conflicting decisions in this matter.

“The AGC is the one filing an appeal against the acquittal of the three men and at the same time, they now want to defend the three in the civil case involving the same three people in the same case,” he said.

Syed Mohd Azlan was arrested on November 3, 2014 in Sungai Rengit in the Johor district of Pengerang, two weeks after his alleged involvement in a rioting and weapons possession case.

Four hours later, policemen transferring him to the Kota Tinggi district police headquarters found him in a weakened state and unresponsive, and took him to the Bandar Penawar health clinic where he was pronounced dead.

A post-mortem revealed that he died from blunt force trauma to the chest. A total of 61 bruises were found on his face, body and legs.

A subsequent inquiry by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) concluded that there was foul play involved in Syed Mohd Azlan’s death.

In 2015, his family initiated civil proceedings against the three policeman and 11 others, including the Inspector General of Police and the government.

“The civil proceedings have been put on hold for an indefinite time. Justice has been denied to the family,” he said.

“We urge the AG to look into the procedures in the department to ensure that the department serves it purpose of representing all Malaysians and not the police.

“The AG’s duties are not only to look into 1MDB issue but also all other matters under the department’s jurisdiction,” he said.

Visvanathan said, confusing moves by the department only shows that the legal system in the country in regressing.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) committee member S. Arulchelvan said the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas himself had said that the department will not represent any party — including the Election Commission (EC) — in election petitions to avoid any conflict of interest.

“In Syed Mohd Azlan’s case, the three men are policemen and from the start they (AGC) clearly stated that they would not defend them, then why now?” he asked.

Related Articles