Published: Monday February 4, 2013 MYT 5:55:00 PM
Updated: Monday February 4, 2013 MYT 10:43:23 PM
Lebanese cops continue to detain man in Claudia Theophilus death
By KAMATCHY SAPPANI
The Theophilus family has appealed to the media not to approach them for comments or interviews until Claudia's body is brought back to Malaysia.
PETALING JAYA: The Lebanese man whose rifle went off and killed Malaysian journalist Claudia Theophilus (pix) on Saturday in Baakleen, Lebanon, remains detained by local police who are continuing investigations into what appears to be a freak accident.
The Lebanese man told the police that he was taking bullets out of his rifle when the rifle went off as he was trying to dislodge a stuck bullet.
Theophilus was rushed to the hospital in Baakleen but she could not be saved.
Ambassador Ilango Karuppannan confirmed that the man who handled the rifle was still in Baakleen police lockup.
He said the Lebanese authorities had briefed the embassy officials.
“We have provided details to Wisma Putra and they have informed the family. We are coordinating with her family members and will assist them in every way,” he said Monday.
By a quirk of fate, Ilango has discovered that Theophilus also studied at Sekolah Menengah Sains Negri Sembilan that was later renamed Sekolah Menengah Sains Tuanku Jaafar in Kuala Pilah, a boarding school.
“I'm very saddened. I was in the pioneer batch 1973-77 while Claudia was from the 1984 batch. Her classmates have described her as a dynamic student and sportswoman.”
Former Chairman of the Star branch of the National Union of Journalists Selvayoga Selvaretnam, who worked with Theophilus on press freedom issues, said the death of the former unionist from The Sun was devastating for her family on many levels.
“She was the mainstay of the family who are individually facing many serious medical concerns of their own.
“Finances has always been an issue and she was the family's main breadwinner,” he said.
It was reported that her mother had recently suffered a stroke and a married brother was bed-ridden after an accident two years ago.
Theophilus was a producer for Al-Jazeera English Online and was based in Doha, Qatar.
She has worked for The Sun and Malaysiakini.
She had arrived in Lebanon on Jan 28 on a holiday.
Sources close to the family said that her employer Al-Jazeera had indicated that they would fund the transfer of Theophilus' body from Beirut to Kuala Lumpur for the funeral in Seremban.
Her sister Dora and a family friend will leave for Beirut on Tuesday.
"I think the earliest the body can be brought back would be Saturday," said the source.
Meanwhile, the Theophilus family has appealed to the media not to approach them for comments or interviews until Claudia's body is brought back to Malaysia.