20 April, 2010

Hishammuddin:"Pornthip's excuse illogical"

Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand's absence at the inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock was not due to the threat on her personal safety as the excuse is considered illogical.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said this was because although the assurance on optimum safety had been given to the pathologist, she had still not given a response to attend and testify at the inquest today.

"I had repeatedly assured her that she would get the best security, the police would do everything necessary to ensure her safety as soon as she arrives in this country until her return home.

"She would be fetched at the airport in a police vehicle before being taken to the tribunal and we would deploy members of the Special Action Unit (UTK) in her room. We will ensure that she returns home to Thailand safely," he told reporters at a media conference at the Defence Service Asia (DSA) Conference and Exhibition, here today.

Hishammuddin said the allegation that the security assurance given to Pornthip was conditional was not true as the safety of every individual entering Malaysia was protected regardless of the status of their citizenship.

"I did not impose any condition, if she truly does not want to come then the question of safety is not the reason, only she alone knows (the reason).

"We just ask her to prove the claim that she had purportedly been pressured and was worried about her personal safety to the extent that she had decided not to give her statement at the inquest, so that we can investigate the matter," he said.

Meanwhile, Karpal Singh, who is representing Beng Hock's family, has asked the Coroner's Court in Shah Alam to cite the minister for contempt of court.

Karpal Singh calling Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz kurang ajar (ill-bred) for accusing Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand of lying.

Karpal argued that Nazri had violated the doctrine of separation of powers be pre-judging the issue and had cast doubts on Pornthip's ability of being a truthful witness.

“To compound matters the minister had said, 'If he (Karpal) wants to cite, cite-lah. Karpal can cite me to the World Court, who cares?' - as if he is challenging the court's dignity.”

Citing case law, Karpal said most cases of prejudging of issues fall within the existing definition of contempt. He said Nazri's conduct was unbecoming of a law practitioner and a minister.

“There should not be any interference of any kind. The minister's statement seems to suggest he possesses 'special knowledge' of what is happening inside and outside the court. This has to be addressed immediately."

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