Police Smashed Cars, Witnesses Tell Malaysian Rights Inquiry
Baton-wielding Malaysian police officers smashed car windscreens and kicked vehicles as they broke up a rally by supporters of jailed ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, witnesses testified Tuesday.
Sabri Mohamad Taib told a rights inquiry he was driving away from the gathering on November 5 last year when about six anti-riot police surrounded his car.
They ordered him to come out but "I refused and locked the doors," he said.
"They started hitting my windscreen until it broke. They also smashed my left side window with a baton. They also kicked the doors," he added.
Sabri was testifying before an ongoing inquiry by Malaysia's Human Rights Commission into the dispersing of the rally.
Police used tear gas, batons and water cannon to remove demonstrators .from a key highway just west of Kuala Lumpur.
A three-member panel is investigating allegations of police brutality.
Some 26 of the 125 people arrested and later bailed reported injuries ranging from bloody noses to cracked ribs.
Sabri said he was heading to the gathering but police had cordoned off the area.
The 38-year-old businessman said he then decided to drive away but suddenly witnessed a large number of people being chased by members of the riot squad.
"I saw one Indian man, Mr. Puspha jumping into his van. But the riot squad personnel dragged him out of the vehicle, beat him and detained him," he said.
Anuar Zainal Abidin, a former chief justice of Malaya heading the panel, asked Sabri whether police ordered the people to disperse.
"I did not hear (the order). The riot squad acted suddenly. I was driving away from the gathering," he said.
Anuar then remarked: "Those who want to disperse are not allowed to leave. Here (police order people to disperse) and then immediately arrest them."
Another witness, Fu'at Mohamad Ramlee, who was a passenger in Sabri's car said other drivers "gave way" for their car to escape when they say their car being attacked by the riot police.
"A lot of vehicles were smashed. There was a van in front of us that was hit," he said, when Anuar asked if other vehicles were attacked.
Surgeon K. Jeyaratnam told the inquiry he had treated Saiful Khairy Kamarulzaman, the bodyguard of Anwar's wife Wan Azizah, an opposition lawmaker, on November 5.
Saiful had a blunt trauma at the right side of the skull, he said. "He vomited three times. There were blood stains."
Jeyaratnam said Saiful was placed in an intensive care unit.
Saiful had earlier testified that he suffered a fractured skull after a tear gas canister grazed his head.
Anwar was sacked as deputy premier by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on September 2, 1998 and arrested 18 days later following mass anti-government rallies.
He is serving a jail term totaling 15 years after being convicted of abuse of power and sodomy -- KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)