The police have denied intimidating lawyer Simon Siah Sy Jen who represented the suspects arrested by Mukah police for allegedly obstructing police in carrying out their duties.
According to state CID chief Datuk Dev Kumar, at about 12pm yesterday, while the statement of one of the suspects was being recorded by the Mukah police in an interview room under section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), an individual claiming to be a lawyer entered the room unannounced and sat down next to the suspect.
“The officer recording the statement asked this individual to leave the room but he refused. The Mukah CID chief, ASP Peter Yong, was then notified of the presence of this individual in the interview room.
“ASP Peter Yong also advised this individual to leave the room and again he refused. ASP Peter Yong then indicated to this individual that his statement may be recorded as a witness to the interview of the suspect if he insisted on being present.
“This individual perceived this as a threat and lodged a police report against ASP Peter Yong the same afternoon. A police report was also lodged against that individual by ASP Peter Yong for obstructing the recording of the statement,” Dev Kumar said in a press statement yesterday.
Dev Kumar said the suspect whose statement was recorded, was one of the two suspects arrested by Mukah police on April 13 at the Balingian Coal-fired Power Plant for allegedly obstructing the police in carrying out their duties.
“One of the suspects was caught on video brandishing a machete and threatening the police team. Both the suspects were subsequently remanded in police custody for four days until April 18 (today). The case is being investigated under sections 189 and 307 of the Penal Code.”
Dev Kumar wished to make it clear that the suspect is under remand for investigation into offences under sections 189 and 307 of the Penal Code and not as a witness, adding that the opportunity accorded under section 28A of the CPC to the suspect was not utilised by the lawyer.
As such, he said by appearing in the police station when a statement was being recorded raised doubts as to his intention, notwithstanding the fact that his identity was not disclosed at that material time.
“This incident could have been avoided if the lawyer had approached the investigating officer and introduced himself earlier and notified his intent to meet and consult the person arrested. Under the law, the police shall provide reasonable facilities for the communication and consultation to take place, subject to certain conditions.”
In this case, Dev Kumar said the lawyer barged into the interview room unannounced and insisted on being present.
“In the absence of an identity from the lawyer and/or request from either the person arrested or the lawyer, ASP Peter Yong was right in exercising his discretion by asking the lawyer to leave the interview room.
“Rights of a person arrested are accorded via section 28A of CPC but nowhere in the provision of section 112 of CPC does it state that a lawyer can be present during the recording of the statement of a person arrested.
“However if there was a request earlier, the police could exercise their discretion to facilitate the presence of the lawyer.”
In his claim, Siah said he was in Mukah yesterday to attend to a further remand hearing for some of the native landowners from Sg Duan who were arrested by the police for obstructing a public servant from discharging his public functions.
“I was informed by the native landowners that Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) have trespassed into their farm lands and all that the native landowners are asking for are compensation from Sarawak Energy for the damage done to their crops and lands,” he claimed.
Siah said he accompanied two native landowners to the police station at about 12pm yesterday, as they were requested to give witness statement to the police.
“When we were at the Mukah Police Station, I met with another of the native landowners, who was also asked to give a witness statement pursuant to section 112 of the CPC. I requested permission from the person in charge of taking the witness statement and was allowed. However, a person by the name of Peter Yong Yew Ping who is in charge of the Criminal Investigation barged in and requested that I as the lawyer for the suspect was also required to give a witness statement for accompanying the native landowner when he gave the statement.
“I refused to give the statement as my client has the right to be accompanied by his lawyer when his statement is given. The action by Peter Yong in requesting lawyers to give statement as well is tantamount to intimidation against the lawyer.”
Furthermore, Siah said the two landowners who were earlier asked to give witness statement to assist in the investigation also ended up being arrested by the police.
“Despite being cooperative, they were deceived to appear at the police station and arrested.”
Siah said the police should at all times allow lawyers to represent their clients and to accompany them when their statements under section 112 of the CPC are taken.
“Section 112 cannot be used in Court as evidence and thus there is no reason even for the police to stop the lawyers from accompanying their clients when such statements are taken.”
He said a total of seven people from Rumah Jiram, Rumah Tangkun, Rumah Budin, Rumah Muda, Rumah Tinseng and Rumah Amba in Sg Duan, Balingian in Mukah were arrested.
According to the villagers, they were defending their land from being trespassed by SEB which wanted to build a tower over their land.
They said they requested for compensation but SEB refused to pay, saying the land was state land.
Source : Jonathan Chia, @ Borneo Post Online