On 25 September 2020, a shoot-out occurred between two groups in front of a school in Banting in which a businessman and his bodyguard were shot. Three students were injured when the businessman car crashed into them. Since then, police have arrested up to 29 suspects who related to the case. However, recently family members of the suspects have spoken up against the alleged injustice caused by the officers towards these suspects.
In a video that has since gone viral with over half a million views as of the time of writing, the footage showcases the treatment of several officers against the suspects who have been handcuffed and chained, and a struggle that ensues.
In the video, some of the suspects can be heard saying “Please help us, they’re going to beat us up and kill us”.
Another suspect then says “They’ve put us in for mistakes and cases that we did not commit. We’re not sure if we’ll ever get out or if they’re going to kill us on the inside.”
The audio in the second half of the video is believed to be from the wife of one of the suspects who has been remanded. Her plea has been translated in the image below.
Malaysians have since taken to social media to voice out their concerns against the treatment of the authorities in this matter and to release the detainees as per the orders by the courts.
What are the authorities saying?
According to The Star, the 25 suspects are members of the gang TCB 21 and they were arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA) on Thursday (Nov 12).
Bukit Aman CID director Comm Datuk Huzir Mohamed said, “We believe the gang is responsible for the shooting in front of a school in Banting on Sept 25. They are active in Banting and Dengkil.”
“Our swoop began on Oct 13 and Oct 14, where 29 TCB 21 members were detained for organised crime offences. They were subsequently detained under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) for 28 days,” Comm Huzir said.
He also added that the arrests were necessary to ensure safety and public order is preserved.
Comm Huzir also said that the investigation papers were referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers’ serious crime division head but there were not enough statements to charge them under Section 130v of the Penal Code.
“Our investigations revealed that this gang is active in attempted murder using firearms, robbery and rioting. They also believed to be responsible for various other crimes including arson, burning excavators, extortion and assault. Thus we detained 25 of them under Poca,” he added.
Not following court orders?
In a statement made by Klang MP Charles Santiago this morning (13 November), he asked for the release of all 25 men before Deepavali which takes place tomorrow (14 November). Santiago said “I know about window shopping. But here we have a bunch of police officers holding 25 men and trying to shop for a charge that will stick.”
“One of the mothers, I was told, is threatening to immolate herself if her son isn’t released by Saturday, the first day of the Festival of Lights,” he added.
According to the Santiago, the PJ magistrate had recently ordered for the release of the men, but the police were being adamant about not following court orders. These men were arrested for numerous criminal offences, which they did not commit, and were never charged.
“For example they were initially arrested for a shooting incident that took place in Banting in September this year, investigated for a murder that took place in 2018, arrested under The Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or SOSMA and yet again rearrested for a murder that happened in 2016,” he said.
Santiago goes on to say that at least two magistrates have disallowed remand of the men but despite that, they are still in detention and the families were not informed of the arrests.
He ends his statement by saying that the “high-handedness” of the police in Malaysia has become worst under the current government and urges them to “ensure the police do not take the law into their hands.”
Similarly, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy also urged the authorities to explain the investigation into the group, as reported by The Vibes.
““I am made to understand that despite the court order to release them, police are still holding them in custody,” he said.
It was said that Ramasamy has also instructed lawyers to file for a habeas corpus application in court, in a bid to expedite the release of the men.
A violation of the fundamental rights to a fair trial
In a statement released by human rights organisation, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), it was mentioned that the family members of the men were kept in the dark until 14 October where they later found out that these men were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) by IPK Selangor.
According to SUARAM, “The practice of chain remand is abhorrent and a violation of the fundamental right to a fair trial.”
‘Chain Remand‘ means that when a person is arrested, the arrested person would be remanded and once the remand expires, the police would re-arrest the individual saying there’s been another police report made which allows them to circumvent the limitations under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
“There is no excuse for the police to repeatedly arrest and rearrest anyone, especially when a magistrate court has clearly rejected further attempts of remand,” said SUARAM.
“The police action, in this case, should be considered as a contempt of court and treated as such. The abuse of power in such cases cannot be taken lightly, and stern action must be taken against police officers involved in the matter.”
SUARAM also explains that if the men are in fact guilty as alleged, then they must be charged in court and be given the right and opportunity to prove their innocence.
So what next?
Both SUARAM and MP Charles Santiago have urged the government to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as soon as possible. This special commission will challenge any police brutality cases and abuse of power to “ensure that the Royal Malaysian Police is a transparent and accountable police force.”
We really do hope the government and authorities will look into this matter seriously and that the accused will get the fair trial and justice they deserve accordingly.
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments section.