Anwar Wife Asked to Testify at Probe into Alleged Police Brutality
The wife of jailed Malaysian ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim was asked Tuesday to testify in an ongoing inquiry into alleged police brutality against her husband's supporters.
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail's testimony was "important" as her name kept cropping up, said Anuar Zainal Abidin, a former chief justice of Malaya heading the inquiry by the Human Rights Commission.
"Everybody has been saying the same thing ... (we want to hear it) coming from her own mouth. Her name has been mentioned so many times, let us hear it first-hand," Anuar told reporters.
He earlier told Noor Sham Abdul Samah, an assistant to Wan Azizah, to ask her to attend the inquiry at its next session from January 2-4.
A three-member panel is investigating the November 5 mass rally by Anwar supporters, which was broken up by police using tear gas, batons and water cannon.
Wan Azizah, who heads the National Justice Party, and other opposition leaders also attended the impromptu rally on a key highway after police blocked access to the original site.
Some 26 of the 125 people arrested and later bailed reported injuries ranging from bloody noses to cracked ribs.
Police and the attorney general are boycotting the inquiry on grounds that it could prejudice future court proceedings. However the rights panel says the matter is not "sub judice."
Earlier, Noor Sham told the panel that riot police were firing tear gas at random and throwing canisters at the crowd.
She said Wan Azizah, who was in a wheelchair due to a prior injury, was hit by water cannon when police charged without warning. She "appeared to be in a panic."
Kamarul Azman Hashim, who helped led Wan Azizah to safety, said she was covering her face with a handkerchief. He said he saw a water cannon truck run over a car and riot police smashing windscreens of cars, puncturing tyres and damaging motorcycles.
Mohamad Sabu, an opposition member of parliament, said police fired tear gas into a crowd -- including women and children who were "shouting and crying" -- at a village nearby the gathering site.
Police also used rattan canes to hit the crowd on the highway, he said.
"I saw a policeman pulling the headscarf of a woman nearby and kicking her. I told him loudly to cool down ... I was caned on my thighs," he said.
Another opposition MP, Mahfuz Omar, said the crowd was about to disperse when police took action. He said he was hit with chemical-laced water and had to be assisted to safety.
Journalist Susan Loone said a police helicopter also fired teargas at the crowd. Policemen were "vandalizing" parked cars, she said.
The inquiry continues Wednesday -- KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)