Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Court says MACC can interrogate anytime

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC) is right to conduct “round-the-clock interrogation” because it is required under its Act to investigate offences promptly.

Court of Appeal judge Datuk Ahmad Maarop said under the law, an investigator was required to unearth the crime as soon as he received information about the offence.

He said, examination of a person and recording a witness’ statement could be done at any time, whenever an occasion arose because investigation of serious offences under the MACC Act was of utmost importance.

Ahmad said restriction of interrogation of witnesses during office hours conflicted with the MACC’s purpose in the prevention of corruption.

“The High Court’s ruling in restricting the interrogation period to office hours was absurd and does not promote the MACC’s purpose,” Ahmad said in his 42-page judgment which was made available to the media today.

On Dec 17, last year, the Court of Appeal panel comprising Justices Datuk Hasan Lah, Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad and Ahmad allowed the MACC’s appeal to set aside a High Court ruling which limited the commission’s interrogation period to the office hours period of between 8.30am and 5.30pm.

Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah, 40, sued the MACC to challenge the commission’s procedures on whether it was allowed to question witnesses overnight.

In his application, Tan claimed that he suffered losses and damages as a result of his detention and 16-hour overnight questioning by MACC.

Ahmad said promptness to carry out investigation was necessary to avoid a delay in the commission’s investigation and dispel any doubts in the court’s mind on the witnesses’ credibility.

He said, if the interrogation period was restricted to office hours and in the event an offence under the MACC Act was committed at night, and a report was lodged the same night, MACC would have to wait until the morning of a working day to start examining the complainant of a report lodged and other witnesses.

Ahmad said: “Under the law, the investigator is enjoined upon to unearth the crime and as soon as he receives the information about the crime, he is to proceed to the spot, ascertain the facts and circumstances of the case and arrest the suspected offender.

“He is to collect the evidence relating to the commission of the offence, examine various persons including the accused, reduce their statements into writing, search the places and take into possession the things considered necessary for the investigation and to be produced at the trial,” he said.

Ahmad said the court could not accept the High Court’s interpretation of “day to day” in Section 30(3)(a) of the MACC Act 2009 to mean an unending 24-hour day and that day must relate to normal working hours.

Instead, he said, according to Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, “from day to day” means continuously or without interruption from one 24-hour day to another. — Bernama

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