Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today criticised Azam Baki's response to news that a suspect in agency custody had died, saying the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief had "no business rushing into conclusions or explaining the cause of death".
LFL director Zaid Malek said it was for the police to investigate and announce findings, or to refer the matter to the Attorney-General's Chambers.
"No conclusions can be made at this point as to whether or not there was foul play in this death, as Azam has done in his statement," he said.
Azam yesterday confirmed the death of a suspect believed to have been involved in a money laundering case related to illegal mining in Pahang, saying he had died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Putrajaya.
"During the investigation, our officers found the man to be unwell and immediately sent him to Putrajaya hospital," Azam was quoted as saying by The Star.
He also said that the MACC officer involved in the investigation of the case would give a statement to the police, and that the agency had submitted CCTV footage to assist in the probe.
In his statement today, Zaid said Azam's explanations were of "no value" as the MACC chief was an "interested party".
"This should have been obvious to the chief commissioner, who should have made no other comment except to say that the matter is under police investigation," he added.
"Public statements of this nature on ongoing police probes have the potential to influence or interfere with such probe."
He also urged top cop Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani to form a special investigation unit at Bukit Aman to investigate the matter, recalling the deaths of others in MACC custody including Teoh Beng Hock in 2009 and Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed in 2011.
"The police must take this matter very seriously and prioritise the investigation as a matter of grave public interest," he said.
"The investigation must be transparent, impartial and expeditious. Firm action under the law must be taken if any MACC personnel is found to be in any way culpable in this death in custody."