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KUCHING : The Dayak National Congress has waded into the furor over the discharge and acquittal of three men charged for abetting in the killing of land rights activist Bill Kayong by demanding the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali investigate what happened and how were the investigation and prosecution carried out.
“What has the investigation and the prosecution done that the court could not find any evidence linking the mastermind to the killer and the death?” DNC president Paul Raja asked as he joins Sarawakians venting their fury at Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohd Fuad Abdul Aziz’s handling of the case.
“We want to know whether the investigation and the prosecutions were done properly within the reasonable standard,” he said.
On Tuesday, politically connected plantation owner Datuk Stephen Lee Chee Kiang, 46, his aide Chin Wui Ching, 51; and pub owner Lie Chang Loon, 38 were discharged and acquitted by the Miri High Court on the charge of abetting in the murder of Kayong on June 21 last year.
Judge Ravinthran N Paramaguru in his decision said the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
He however found a prima facie case had been established against a fourth man, Mohamad Fitri Pauzi, 30, and had ordered him to make his defence in a trial on June 14.
Raja, a lawyer and a native land rights activist himself, said what happened on Tuesday had “our judicial system … in a mess”.
“Yesterday’s (Tuesday) judgment of the court is totally unbelievable.
“As has been said many times over and is a public knowledge, the mastermind ran away from the murder and is linked to the series of altercations related to the Bekelit land dispute,” he said referring to Lee’s flight to Australia immediately after the killing and the feud his plantation company has with native landowners in Sg Bekelit.
Raja said what the people feared most, a judgment in favour of the rich and connected, has become a reality.
Senior lawyer and one of Sarawak’s foremost native land lawyers, Baru Bian, had reacted to the decision by claiming the prosecution were inept and had botched their case.
Baru then questioned the competency of Mohd Fuad and his team of DPPs in conducting major criminal cases.
“Did the prosecution even really try to build up a solid case?” Baru, the PKR state chairman and also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, asked.
“One can sense the frustration of the judge in having to put up with an inept prosecution.
“Rulings are based on evidence presented before the court and without putting forth a strong case, the prosecution had failed to even get past first base,” Baru said.
He said the release of the “alleged mastermind accused”, not even a case made up for him to answer in defence, “makes a complete mockery of our criminal justice system”.
“The trial will be remembered for the supposed key prosecution witnesses switching sides during the trial, while many named witnesses from the communities who could have testified to give useful evidence were not called.”
Lawyers grouped under the “Lawyer Kamek for Change” said the acquittal and discharge had “sent the wrong signal to land rights activists and the natives of Sarawak fighting for their rights”.
LK4C, a non-governmental organisation whose members number only 10 lawyers, said it is mulling the possibility of taking civil action against the three men.
Kayong was shot dead when he stopped his 4-wheeled drive vehicle at a traffic light intersection near to the E-Mart supermarket in Tudan. – dayakdaily.com