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Police warned against closing investigation into royal bodyguard accused of attacking deaf-mute man

Rights lawyers cite contradictory statements from two senior police officers and call on government to ensure no interference.

3 minute read
The St Regis hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where a bodyguard of the Johor crown prince allegedly assaulted a disabled e-hailing driver.
The St Regis hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where a bodyguard of the Johor crown prince allegedly assaulted a disabled e-hailing driver.

Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has reminded the police of their legal duty to investigate all criminal offences, saying contradictory statements were issued by two senior police officers about a disabled man's report against a bodyguard of Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

While the head of the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) confirmed that an investigation into the 46-year-old man's complaint was underway, the Kuala Lumpur police chief later stated that the matter had been "settled amicably"" and that the complainant did not wish to prolong the matter.

"These two announcements by the police contradict each other. Is the investigation ongoing or not? The KL police chief’s announcement suggests it is not," said LFL director Zaid Malek.

He also urged Putrajaya to ensure there would be no interference in the investigation.

"We demand that the police continue its investigation on this matter. It must be thorough, impartial and independent investigation. This is a matter involving the public interest," he added.

Zaid made comparison of the police's conduct with previous investigations into individuals accused of touching on issues of "race, royalty and religion", where they were immediately arrested.

"One cannot help but to make the comparison and question why police in this case did not show a similar zeal here."

On Tuesday, an e-hailing driver, who is deaf and mute, said he was assaulted by a bodyguard of Tengku Ismail, better known as TMJ, after he was asked to move his car outside the St Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

He said the bodyguard, who was part of the royal entourage, knocked on his car window before punching him in the face.

The man was later treated at Kuala Lumpur Hospital for a soft tissue injury.

The police also confiscated the CCTV footage of the hotel as well as the victim's dashcam camera.

Yesterday, Bukit Aman CID chief Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said police had classified the offence under Section 323 of the Penal Code for causing injury.

Later, city police chief Rusdi Mohd Isa said the victim lodged a second complaint on the same day and withdrew the first one, saying it was a "misunderstanding".

It was not clear whether the police dropped the investigation. As of yesterday, the suspect had yet to be arrested.

This prompted a vocal PKR MP from Johor to remind the police that they are obliged to continue the investigation regardless of whether the victim had withdrawn his complaint or not.

"It does not matter if the assailant is an important person or an aide or bodyguard of royalty, the sultan of a state or even the Yang Di-Pertuan Agung, an offence against ordinary citizens and even more so against people with disabilities cannot be taken lightly," said Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim.

Zaid asked why the police issued a statement on the second report.

"Was this issued to justify a cessation of investigation on the matter?"

He said that there was no such thing as "settlement" between parties involved in a criminal case.

"Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967 tasks PDRM with the preservation of the peace and security of Malaysia, the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension and prosecution of offenders."

Zaid said if an investigation into a criminal offence could be dropped just because the victim withdrew his complaint, it would allow those in power to force ordinary citizens to withdraw complaints against them.

"It will lead to the breakdown of our criminal justice system, making the criminal laws a mere farce," he said.

This is not the first case involving TMJ's bodyguards.

In 2012, a member of TMJ's security team was fined RM10,000 after he was found guilty of extorting RM40,000 from a businessman.