PETALING JAYA: The discharge and acquittal of three men, one of whom is said to be the mastermind, in the murder of PKR politician and Sarawak human rights activist Bill Kayong suggests there is no accountability for the crime, says Amnesty International (AI)
Urging the authorities to reopen investigations into the murder, AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said it was necessary to ensure the perpetrators involved in Kayong’s death were brought to justice.
“The Malaysian authorities must strengthen measures to protect all human rights defenders in Malaysia from attacks, intimidation and harassment.
“Any action in the interest of justice in this case would also ensure Kayong’s family is provided reparations for their great loss,” Shamini said.
Yesterday, at the Miri High Court, Stephen Lee Chee Kiang, Lie Chang Loon and Chin Wui Chung were all discharged and acquitted without having their defence called over the murder of Kayong.
A fourth accused, Mohamad Fitri Pauzi, the man accused of pulling the trigger in the mafia-style murder was ordered to enter his defence.
Kayong, 43, whose Muslim name is Mohd Hasbie Abdullah, was gunned down while in his Toyota Hilux vehicle about 8.30am on June 21 at a traffic light intersection at Lutong, near the E-Mart supermarket along Jalan Miri-Bintulu.
The killing of the Miri PKR leader was believed to be linked to his work as an advocate of social issues, especially on indigenous rights and land issues.
In acquitting the trio, High Court Judge P Ravinthran ruled that the prosecution had failed to furnish evidence linking the trio to the murder of the former Miri PKR secretary.
“The prosecution failed to establish any evidence linking the trio to the murder. I have to discharge and acquit the three without calling for their defence,” Ravinthran ruled.
According to AI, Kayong was protecting communal land in Sarawak against oil palm companies in Sungai Bekelit when he was killed.
Following the acquittal of the three men, Dayak activists as well as Kayong’s family and friends protested outside the High Court demanding justice be served.
Later, Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian called the trial, as well as the weak case put up by the prosecution, a mockery of justice.
The Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman said there was no doubt the question asked by most people following the case would be the reason for Stephen Lee to flee the country just two days after the murder, allegedly with the intent of hiding out in Australia, then China while authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.
“Why did Stephen Lee flee the country immediately after the murder?
“After hiding in Australia he fled to China, and it took months and the co-operation of the Chinese authorities before the authorities were able to bring this fugitive back to face trial.
“After all the efforts taken to capture him, he has been released because of insufficient evidence? This is a complete joke and points to serious deficiencies in the prosecutor’s office,” Baru said, questioning the conduct of the deputy public prosecutors involved in the case.
He lamented that the ultimate message to the native Sarawak population from this ruling was that nothing can be done to stop the oppression of their communities and the denial of their rights.