Thursday, February 22, 2007

[Malaysia] Air force cadets suspended in ragging probe

PUTRAJAYA: Royal Malaysian Air Force cadets involved in the ragging of a trainee at the Kepala Batas training college have been suspended with immediate effect.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said an internal inquiry which is on going is expected to be completed in two weeks time.

Although Najib declined to give details on the number of seniors suspended, it is believed that 15 seniors were involved in the incident as 15 cadets identified from the video footage gave statements to the police.

"I have left it to the Air Force to take the appropriate action. The Chief of Air Force have requested for two weeks to complete their board of inquiry to come out with a report and after that immediate action will be taken.

"I will give you all the exact number of people suspended later," said Najib who is also Defence Minister.

TV3 had on Tuesday in its prime news broadcast visuals of severe ragging on first year pilot trainee, Mohd Hazim Ahmad Azam, 19.

The recording, captured by another freshie on his camera phone, shows Ahmad being forced to drink his own vomit, place his head in a rubbish bin, soak himself in sewer water from a drain, among others.

He was also punched and kicked.

The incidents were alleged to have happened since last September at the trainees' hostel at the Tanah Merah Camp near Jitra, Kedah.

Najib added that if there is evidence that those responsible are guilty, they could be expelled from the college and subject to other forms of legal action.

Najib was speaking to reporters after witnessing Penang Shipbuilding and Construction Sdn Bhd ink a US$42 million (RM147 million) agreement to design, build, launch three chemical tankers for Malaysian based Gagasan Carriers Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Bernama reports that police have begun probing the ragging following an order issued by the Kedah Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday.

Kubang Pasu police chief Supt Mohd Karim Abu said other trainees as well as the college officers might be called up to give their statements.

He added Kubang Pasu police had set up a six-member team headed by an investigating officer to probe the case which was reported by the victim's father, Ahmad Azman Ghazali, 46, at Jitra police station on Sunday.

Mohd Karim said police would be taking statements from Mohd Halim and Ahmad Azman Thursday.

Investigation papers would be submitted to the Public Prosecutor who would decide whether those involved would be charged in court, he said.

However, he said police would not interfere with the investigation conducted by the RMAF inquiry board.

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