AG Clarifies That He Did Not Call For Ipoh Tahfiz Sexual Abuse Case To Be Dropped

The Attorney-General (AG) denied the claim that the police did not conduct investigations into the child sexual abuse that happened at an Ipoh tahfiz school back in 2016.

Cover image via The Straits Times & Berita Harian

Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has issued a statement yesterday, 21 October, to clarify that he did not instruct the Ipoh magistrate's court to drop a tahfiz sexual abuse case

Image via Malay Mail

Thomas denied that there was a written directive from him to the Ipoh magistrate's court to drop the tahfiz sexual abuse case involving a then 10-year-old boy allegedly molested by three seniors, reported New Straits Times.

"In fact, none was mentioned in the Perak Prosecution Office's letter to the magistrate," he refuted.

It was previously reported that the Perak Prosecution Office sent a letter to the magistrate to drop the case under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.

The provision grants the AG the ability to discontinue any proceedings for an offence.

The AG clarified that the case was dropped on the ground of lack of evidence

Thomas stressed that the police did carry out investigations after receiving reports from the victim's mother.

He denied the claim made by the victim's mother whereby no investigations were carried out after her reports.

Maahad Tahfiz al Barakah in Manjoi, Ipoh - the school where the alleged sexual abuse took place back in 2016.

Image via Berita Harian

"Police investigation into this case began with police reports lodged by a mother on 14 August 2016 claiming that her minor son, then aged 10 years old (the victim), was alleged to have been sexually molested by three senior students, aged between 12 to 18 years old (the suspects), at their school in Manjoi, Perak," the AG said in the statement.

"Police conducted their investigations by interviewing the victim, the suspects, and witnesses such as teachers, staff and the victim's roommates and other schoolmates."

The investigation papers (IP) were later submitted to the AG's Chambers for a decision, but the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) assigned to the case concluded in September 2016 that there was no other evidence for the police to continue investigating.

Thus, the case was then labelled 'No Further Action' (NFA). 

In February 2017, the IP was reopened after new evidence was presented to the AG's Chambers, but the case was closed a year later due to lack of evidence - again

"The DPP assigned to the case reviewed every piece of evidence made available by the police, including the new evidence," Thomas wrote.

"Due to insufficient evidence to prove a prima facie case against the suspect(s) or anyone else, the DPP concluded for a second time in February 2018 that investigation need not continue."

As for the latest legislative bout in June this year, the AG said the magistrate's court should not have acknowledged the case under Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)

Ipoh Magistrate's Court.

Image via bestfbkl

The victim's mother submitted a complaint under the Section 377E and Section 14(a) of the more recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

It was then that the court recognised that the sexual offence did take place.

To this, the AG said the magistrate can only examine a complaint under Section 133 of the CPC in the case when no investigation was carried out by the police.

"Which clearly was not the case," said the AG, stressing that the police did investigate the matter.

"Further, the DPP's decision to NFA this case is in the exercise of the AG's power under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution."

The AG said clarifications from his part were needed after the case became public interest

Earlier, Children's Commissioner of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), and opposition party Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) had all demanded the AG explain why the case was dropped without explanation, reported Malay Mail and Malaysiakini.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Pipoq

The victim's mother, Johanna Sarah Harun Ronald, claimed that the justice system had failed to serve justice for her son, who is currently undergoing psychiatric therapy at Hospital Bahagia in Tanjung Rambutan to overcome his trauma.

Johanna had been seeking justice for her son for three years and she is currently considering filing a civil suit against the tahfiz school for negligence.

Here are our previous coverages of the case: