Thursday May 3, 2012
Independent panel to probe assault claims against journalists, says Hisham
By JOSEPH SIPALAN and AUSTIN CAMOENS
PUTRAJAYA: An independent panel will be set up to investigate claims of police brutality against journalists covering Bersih 3.0, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
His ministry made the decision after the Cabinet indicated that it was agreeable to the establishment of such a panel.
“At the post-Cabinet meeting, it was unanimously agreed that such a panel should be formed to get to the bottom of the allegations, which police have started investigating,” Hishammuddin said.
On who would be in the panel, he said a few names had been mentioned and would be announced in due course.
Hishammuddin expressed regret that some journalists were allegedly treated badly.
“We have no qualms about doing that (forming the panel), and the IGP (Tan Sri Ismail Omar) wants it to be transparent, even if it involves the police,” he said.
Hishammuddin added that the issue must be looked at in the right context.
“I have to remind you that the worst case (of violence) involved a journalist, Mohamad Azri (Salleh) from Al-Hijrah (TV), who was set upon while trying to save a police (officer).
“It was not the police who set on him, so please be fair in that context,” he after the post-Cabinet meeting here yesterday.
Hishammuddin said the Cabinet had no issue with calls for a separate independent panel to look into claims of police misconduct in dealing with demonstrators, and urged Suhakam, the Bar Council and the public to submit whatever evidence they had to his ministry to facilitate investigations.
Hishammuddin noted that the Cabinet had ordered the police and the Attorney-General to expedite investigations and charge those responsible for turning the rally into a riot.
He said his ministry and the police would compile all their footage from April 14 to 28, to give the public a full picture of the security situation that the police had to manage over that two weeks.
He said the footage included that of PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu allegedly leading some 3,000 people in an attempt to occupy Dataran Merdeka at around 2am on April 28.
Separately, Ismail said the police were investigating reports by journalists that they were roughed up and intimated by policemen during the rally.
“We understand that you were doing your duty during the rally and assure you that anyone who was victimised will get justice,” he said at Bukit Aman yesterday.
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