Friday, July 3, 2009

Kugan case proceeds ... without a judge!

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The judge might have been away, but this did not stop the prosecution and the defence from arguing their case in the High Court here Thursday.

It was supposed to have been the first day of hearing for the return of documents, tissue samples and bodily fluids of suspected car thief A. Kugan who died while in police custody, but Justice Muhamad Ideres Muhamad Rapee was away in Kedah.

Nevertheless, the prosecution and the defence carried on with their arguments before a stunned court official.

Senior assistant registrar Azlinda Ahmad Sharif tried to intervene to explain that she could not hear any kind of arguments in the absence of the judge, but her words were drowned out by the heated exchange between Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin and defence lawyer N. Surendran.

The war of words between the two started when Surendran asked Noorin to clarify her grounds to get the case thrown out on technical grounds.

Noorin replied that there was no need for her to do that as the prosecution’s ground had been clearly stated.

Surendran insisted that he must be given specific grounds to enable him to reply.

Noorin then repeated that the three grounds of the prosecution’s objection have been clearly stated.

However, she said she would “happily” provide further clarification if needed.

In the end, no order was given on the matter as the exchange between the two was not considered a real proceeding.

The hearing was postponed to July 15.

Kugan’s mother N. Indra, 41, who was also present Thursday, had filed a notice of motion and a supporting affidavit through her lawyer for the return of his samples on May 28.

Indra is asking the High Court to set aside and/ or cancel a search warrant issued by the Petaling Jaya Magistrates Court for the search and seizure at the pathologist’s office on April 6.

Outside the courtroom, Surendran hit out at the Attorney-General for the delay in prosecuting whoever was responsible for Kugan’s death.

“We hold the A-G responsible because the power to prosecute is his,” he told reporters.

He said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s statement that the authorities were waiting for the results of a probe carried out by the Malaysian Medical Council should not have any bearing on the issue.

The probe, he said, was on the professional conduct of the first pathologist and had nothing to do with finding out who was responsible for Kugan’s death.