Trial related to Penan chief's death adjourned
The late Penan chief Kelesau Naan (right) was the lead plaintiff of a pending Penan land rights litigation against Samling and the Sarawak State government. He went missing in December 2007 under mysterious circumstances and was later found dead.
By Ken Hu, Hornbillunleashed
The trial of 2 suspected of forging signature of the son of late Penan chief Kelasau Naan of Long Kerong to dispel suspicion of any foul play in the death of the anti-logging Penan chief had proceeded at the Miri Magistrate Court today, with 3 witnesses called. Originally set for two-day hearing has been adjourned to May 20 for continuation of trial after today's hearing.
Andrew Wee, an employee of Sarawak timber concessionaire Samling and 2 Penan brothers, Raymond and Ismail gave evidence for the prosecution in the trial of the 2 suspects, Kho Thien Seng and Sedi bin Li, charged for forging the signature in a letter bearing Nick Kelasau's name and sent to online portal Malaysiakini purportedly denying any element of foul play in the death of his father.
The 2 suspect are charged for forgery and if found guilty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to 2 years, with fine, under section 465 of the Penal Code.
Nick Kelasau has given evidence when the case proceeded for 2 day in April.
When contacted, Nick who was at the Miri Courthouse said he did not know what Andrew Wee had told the Magistrate Court.
"Raymond and Ismail were with me when 'Sio' (referring to the accused Kho Thien Seng) visited me in Mulu. They told the Court the truth, that I only signed a letter acknowledging and expressing my appreciation towards Samling, for providing transportation to locals using the logging roads."
They also testified that I had refused to sign the letter denying element of foul play in my father's death," Nick said.
Kelasau Naan, 80 years old anti-logging Penan leader had gone missing on Oct 23 2007 after telling his wife, Uding Lidem, that he was going to check on an animal trap he had set near their hut - situated near the Sungai Segita river about two hours walk from their long-house of Long Kerong.
Failing to locate Kelasau despite the use of tracker dogs, the villagers feared that their headman had died.
On Dec 17, the villagers discovered Kelasau's skull and the bones of his thighs, ribs and hands which suddenly surfaced near Sungai Segita.
Fingers have pointed generally to logging interests as being behind Kelesau's death, and the Penans are skeptical of any police investigation since no villager had been interviewed. Under such circumstances, Kelesau Naan's death continues to be suspicious.
A letter bearing Nick's name and what is supposed to be his signature has been making the rounds purportedly denying any element of foul play in the death of his father, Kelesau Naan.
The letter "Penan leader's death: 'Forged' letter surfaces" , dated Jan 5, 2008 a copy of which was received by Malaysiakini, claimed to "hereby confirm" that Nick does 'not suspect any foul play in the death' of his late father and to disavow statements made to the contrary in an earlier Malaysiakini report "Penan chief found dead, foul play suspected".
"With this confirmation, I hope that no speculation will arise involving myself or the family of my late father, involving his death," read the letter which was dated Jan 5, 2008.
"It is our wish that the speculation be laid to rest and that my late fatherâ€™s spirit be allowed to rest," the letter said further.
In his police report, Nick disclaimed any involvement in the writing or signing of the letter and maintained his stand that the family believes Kelesau was indeed killed.
(14 May 2009)
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