By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

The police officers who arrested 16 people during last year’s candlelight vigil honouring those who died from COVID-19 were not wearing name tags or identification numbers, alleged the vigil participants.

They alleged this in their application for a court order to compel the police to produce the MyKad numbers, full names and other identifying information of the enforcement officers who detained them on Aug 19 last year.

The discovery application — filed by lawyers from AmerBON at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on May 30 this year — is part of the participants’ main civil action against the police over their alleged wrongful arrest during the vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.

The crux of the civil suit was that the police had allegedly exercised excessive force among other purported wrongful acts during the arrest.

‘Details needed for main lawsuit’

According to a copy of an affidavit in support of the application sighted by Malaysiakini, one of the 16 plaintiffs Nur Qyira Izzati Yusri contended that the details are needed for the main lawsuit.

She claimed that all the plaintiffs have no access to the said information.

“The documents sought in this discovery application are relevant and required for the just disposal of the legal action.

“The identities of the police officers, who were on duty and involved in the incident on the night of Aug 19, 2021, whereby the applicants were arrested and detained (allegedly) wrongfully, are relevant to and needed so they can be named alongside the defendants as joint-tortfeasors.

“The applicants do not have the complete information regarding the police officers on duty and involved on the night of the incident on Aug 19, 2021, because the police officers on duty and involved in the incident were not wearing name tags or body (tag) numbers during the incident.

“The information and/or documents sought to be discovered are under the possession and/or knowledge of the defendants,” Qyira contended.

Under the law, a tort is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability, while a tortfeasor is a person who committed such act or omission.

At present, the civil action listed 12 defendants, namely eight individual police officers, the Royal Malaysia Police, the Inspector General of Police (who was not named), the Home Ministry, and the government.

A police officer, Saiful, was the only one listed, and that was also by a single name rather than a full name.

Qyira said in the alternative, the plaintiffs seek a court order for the defendants to answer interrogatory questions such as the identity of the police officers on duty and involved in the incident, as well as their identification details.

Interrogatories are a set of questions answerable on oath that a party may, with leave of the court, serve on his opponent for his opponent to answer.

Not relevant’

In a related matter, through an affidavit in reply filed on June 21, the defendants raised objections against the 16 vigil participants’ discovery application.

In the filing by investigating officer Muhammad Fikri Abdul Manan, he contended that the information sought is not relevant.

“The information sought over all the police officers on duty and involved in the incident on Aug 19, 2021, are not relevant in light of the plaintiffs themselves having laid out the defendants’ (alleged) acts against the plaintiffs in paragraph 37 of the Statement of Claim (of the main suit).

“Therefore, the plaintiffs seeking information on the identification card, body (tag) numbers, and address of work amounted to a fishing expedition,” Fikri claimed.

He also contended that the Government Proceedings Act 1956 only required the plaintiffs to list the names of the officers targeted by the suit.

A total of 31 individuals were arrested during the candlelight vigil, including Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat members.

Many participants were seen physically dragged into the waiting Black Marias, after altercations between the participants of the candlelight vigil and police personnel on-site.

They were heard repeatedly demanding the police to state whether they were under arrest, but their questions were ignored.

They were later slapped with compounds of RM2,000 each.

Two of the participants were charged under section 90 of the Police Act 1967 in connection with their arrest during the vigil.