EXCLUSIVE Several high-profile criminal cases could well have been swept under the carpet on the instruction of the Attorney-General's Chambers.
This follows claims that amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) five years ago have strengthened the attorney-general's position in police investigations as his office can, at any time, demand the investigation papers of a case even if it has not been completed.
As a result, the AG's Chambers can at times be seen as influencing the direction of police investigations, something that has never before happened in the force.
Former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Mat Zain Ibrahim, who raised this controversial matter, said the amendments to the CPC passed by Parliament in 2006 and enacted since 2007, have resulted in the police force losing some of its independent investigation powers (see chart at the end of this report).
Before the amendments, Mat Zain said there was a clear demarcation of powers separating the duties of the AG's Chambers and the police.
"This is as far as the prosecution and investigation powers are concerned. Both parties have been comfortable with the separation of powers for decades, and there was no problem to this prior to the amendments."
The amendments, he lamented, have hammered yet another nail in the police force's coffin as a professional and independent institution.
Musa 'sold' police force to AG
Previously, he said, the public prosecutor would not be able to ask for police investigation papers (IPs) if a matter had yet to be completed and this was provided for in the law.
"Now, with the amendments to the CPC, the AG or his officers can summon for the investigation papers as quickly as after a (police) report has been lodged," Mat Zain told Malaysiakini.
More troubling, he said there had been instances when the IPs are not returned to the police, effectively holding up, or worse still, ending their investigation.
"I have made my stand on this issue known to the current inspector-general of police, Ismail Omar (right), and I asked him to ensure that the police get their powers back," said Mat Zain, who retired from the force a decade ago.
"I have also informed the home minister, the solicitor-general and the prime minister about my concerns as the police should be given a free hand to investigate, without any interference," he said.
Mat Zain, who investigated a number of high-profile cases before his retirement including the ‘black-eye' involving former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim as well as former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor, said the amendments were to Sections 107 and 120 of the CPC.
The current Section 120 (2) of the CPC allows the AG or his officers to instruct the police investigating officer or the officer-in-charge of a police district to submit the IP without the need for approval from senior police officers, such as the state police chief or the CID director.
"This has never happened before prior to this amendment. At the time these amendments were drafted, former IGP Musa Hassan was deputy CID director, then promoted to CID director, then deputy IGP (DIGP) and these amendments was approved in 2006, when he was the DIGP. The amended CPC came to force in 2007, when Musa was the IGP.
"I maintain my position that the CPC amendments were made possible with Musa's total agreement. It is Musa who sold the police force to the AG, Abdul Gani Patail."
'I experienced such an episode'
Mat Zain said he himself had experienced this episode when he was the investigating officer in the black-eye case.
The AG's Chambers wrote him a letter on Feb 13, 1999, requesting the IPs on the case before the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) commenced as it (the AG's Chambers) received a letter on this matter from former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor's lawyers.
The letter was written by the chambers' head of prosecution Azahar Mohamed, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, who cited Section 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The RCI took place from Feb 22 to March 4, 1999.
"The AG had no power then to instruct any police officer to hand over IPs as and when he liked, as is practised today (after the CPC amendments), or to keep the papers as long as he wished after these are handed over to the chambers," Mat Zain said.
"I discussed the matter with then IGP Norian Mai, who supported me on the issue as there was no provision in the law for the police to hand over IPs to the AG's Chambers," he said, adding that he called Azahar to inform him of the decision.
The former top cop said the police force was very professional then, including its investigation on ex-boss Rahim (left), as at that time there was a internal battle between the police and the AG's Chambers to set the record straight. (More on this issue tomorrow)
"In those days, the IOs could challenge the DPP or for that matter questioned the AG if he refused to charge a person when there were ample evidence to do so gathered during their investigations.
"In the black-eye case, for instance, I even threatened Abdul Gani that I would lodge a report against him and the AG after the AG's Chambers declared the IP was never received by them, when in actual fact they have already signed the receipt for the IP. So much so, this ‘loss of IP' was even brought up in Parliament."
Nowadays, he said the IOs just accept whatever is decided by the AG.
Amendments aim to serve 'selfish' aims
Mat Zain said he could attest without any hesitation that the amendments to the CPC could have been due to the bitter experience of the AG's Chambers in dealing with the police, especially with investigation officers such as him.
"I can also say without any doubt that the CPC amendments were made mala fide (in bad faith) by Gani (far left) to serve his own selfish and evil purposes. This man is full of vengeance," he remarked.
He said the amendment to Section 107 of the CPC may appear to ensure speedy police investigations, but that section also empowers the AG to order the OCPDs (district police chiefs) to furnish the information demanded by the chambers.
"Put simply, the attorney-general can determine the direction of police investigations," Mat Zain added.