Thu, Aug 06, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Malaysia probes death of aide to Selangor Cabinet

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia began an inquest yesterday into the mysterious death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who apparently plunged from the 14th floor of anti-corruption offices where he was being questioned.

“We want to find out how Teoh met with his death,” the lawyer representing his family, Gobind Singh Deo, said at the start of the inquiry, which is scheduled to run for 15 days.

Teoh’s body was found on July 16 on the roof of an adjacent building after he underwent questioning late into the night at the offices of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The government ordered the inquest after opposition groups held protests demanding to know what happened to Teoh, an assistant to a member of the state Cabinet in Selangor, which is ruled by the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

The inquest began with testimony from two witnesses, a building technician and a janitor, who testified on the condition of Teoh’s body when he was found sprawled on a balcony.

A total of 97 witnesses will be called, most of them officers of the commission.

The inquest falls short of the opposition’s demand for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh’s death, which they argue would be more independent.

“We have grave doubts. But we suspend judgement to give the inquest a chance to prove itself,” said veteran opposition legislator Lim Kit Siang, who attended the inquest.

“The people want a royal commission as it will command public confidence,” he said.

The anti-corruption body has said that on the day he was found dead, Teoh, who was not himself being investigated, had been questioned until 3:45am and then chose to rest in the building after being discharged.

It said he was seen at 6am sleeping on a sofa and was not seen again until his body was discovered that afternoon.

He had been due to get married that day.

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