Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) has questioned whether former Uber driver Lam Chang Nam was made a scapegoat to block the Suhakam inquiry into Pastor Raymond Koh's kidnapping.
Lam came into the picture after he was charged last March with extorting RM30,000 from Koh's family by claiming he could secure the release of the pastor if he was paid.
Caged noted that the police officer who headed the task force to investigate Koh's abduction had previously testified to Suhakam under oath that Lam had nothing to do with the abduction.
"The timing of the charge against Lam for kidnapping, on the eve of the 12th hearing day, just before an additional three police witnesses were to be called to assist the inquiry to establish truth and justice, also raises questions.
Police hiding the truth?
"Are the police trying to hide the truth?" it said in a statement today.
It also pointed out that the charge sheet against Lam said eight people were involved in the kidnapping but CCTV footage which captured the kidnap incident showed 14 persons.
"What is Lam’s role in this supposed “team of eight” when the video of the abduction – admitted by the police as reliable evidence – shows a team of about 14 persons who executed the abduction with military precision?
"Isn’t it much more likely that Lam is a convenient scapegoat? In short, the arrest and charge against Lam for kidnapping Koh is both shocking, illogical and begs belief," the NGO said.
Inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun had sent a letter to Suhakam notifying that the commission cannot proceed with its inquiry due to the charge.
Caged also stated that the inquiry had revealed "vast array of shortcomings in the police investigations" and accused the cops of trying to derail the hearings.
"Why would the police be less than forthcoming in assisting Suhakam to uncover the truth about pastor Koh and why the seeming eagerness to stop the public inquiry?
"Do they already know who abducted pastor Raymond Koh?
"This issue of the disappearances of pastor Koh and the others is not just a matter of importance to the families of the victims. At stake is the reputation of the Royal Malaysian Police force, a force that is highly respected for its competency in crime-solving and its ability to protect us as citizens," it said.
While the inquiry for Koh had been suspended, Suhakam said it will proceed with the inquiry into other disappearances namely Amri Che Mat, pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth Sitepu.