A top official of Malaysia’s attorney general’s office appears to have attempted to bully the family of a murdered public prosecutor investigating corruption involving Prime Minister Najib Razak to agree to an immediate cremation rather than waiting for a second autopsy, then offered a “golden handshake” to them, according to text messages by AG’s office personnel.
However, against the wishes of most of the family or their knowledge, the body of Kevin Morais was whisked away and burned without an independent post-mortem from the hospital by an estranged brother who described himself in a text to an attorney general’s office official as a “hardcore gangster.”
Morais was murdered on Sept 4 in spectacular fashion after his car was rammed and he was dragged out as he drove to work. He was kidnapped after the collision and ended up in a cement-filled oil drum that had been dumped in a river. His burned car was found elsewhere in a field with the identification numbers erased. Purely by chance, a CCTV camera along his route picked up the kidnapping and seven men including an army major were arrested for the crime. The 55-year-old Morais had been seconded from the Ministry of Justice to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Scandal won’t go away
For months, Malaysian law enforcement has been wracked with attempts on the part of the Najib government to quell investigations into hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in the prime minister’s personal account, then disappeared again, and by massive mismanagement of the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. state-backed investment firm. Najib has sacked a string of top officials including his own deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, and Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officials have been subjected to what has been called a scorched-earth campaign to discover who, if any of them, has been leaking information on the case.
The attorney general, Mohamad Apandi Ali, a former United Malays National Organization state treasurer before being elevated to public prosecutor and then the judicial bench, was hurriedly drafted to replace the long-serving Abdul Gani Patail in August just as Gani Patail reportedly was about to file charges against Najib for corruption. Apandi immediately denied that Kevin Morais was working on the case when he was abducted and murdered.
CCTV footage of Anthony Kevin Morais' abduction. Source: Sarawak Report
Brother of dead man charges he was probing PM’s finances
But Morais’s brother, Charles Suresh Morais, an Atlanta, George-based hotelier read a statutory declaration to a Kuala Lumpur press conference on Nov. 25 that Kevin Morais had indeed been working on the Najib case and that the charge sheet that was never made public after Gani Patail was fired bore Kevin Morais’s initials. The charge sheet was obtained surreptitiously by the investigative blog Sarawak report and made public. Charles Morais also said his brother had repeatedly voiced concerns about the level of corruption he was investigating, becoming so worried about his own security that he asked that the two speak in a north Indian dialect instead of Malay or English.
After Charles Morais’s press conference, the office again denied that Kevin Morais had anything to do with the investigation. The office insisted that he was killed over a fraud case brought against the army major. However, a series of texts made available to Asia Sentinel and Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown, who broke the story, have once again cast doubt on the attorney general’s version of events. The texts, by Mabel Muttiah, a newly-elevated senior assistant to Apandi, bombarded the Morais family with demands that they cremate the murdered prosecutor instead of waiting for a second autopsy.
When those attempts failed, according to the texts, Muttiah sought against the wishes of the family to have the cadaver removed from the hospital morgue where it had been taken – texting another brother, David, on Nov. 16, that instead Richard Morais – the “hardcore gangster” brother – had “asked me to find out from you if you would join him [tomorrow] in getting the remains of Kev fr the mortuary. Thank you.”
Why the hurry??
Why the attorney general was in such a hurry to shut down a second autopsy is unclear. Nonetheless, the family became suspicious of the official autopsy, which has yet to be published because of the on-going case. They did come across inconsistencies that could indicate inconsistencies with the original story. They were told the cause of Kevin’s death was considered to be “possible asphyxiation” and that police earlier said he had been strangled with his belt or necktie and his hands tied behind his back. But family members said there were no marks on the body that would have indicated strangulation – that his body was found with hands free and in front of him, pointing to a possible different cause of death.
The family say that they immediately found themselves subjected to extraordinary and intolerable pressure to waive their right and to cremate the body as soon as possible. Muttiah, now a special assistant to Apandi, said she had been a close friend of Kevin’s, although Charles has said that Kevin had indicated that he never felt close to Mabel when alive. Nonetheless, she authored numerous texts pressuring the family to cremate Kevin immediately.
On Sept. 21, she texted a Morais cousin: “I would have done the funeral differently” adding “but who am I only an outsider.” On the next day, she texted: “I wd have named the funeral programme as A HERO’S JOURNEY BACK TO HOME SWEET HOME…. Bring the remains to Nirvana – hve the wake for that particular night and next day in a chapel setting hve the svs with the priest … singing they hymns and his favourite Amazing Grace.. followed by the reading of the scriptures and the message … a multi media show… eulogies and his final hour would be the coffin dripped in the AGC and Malaysian flag – then the cremation.”
When Charles Morais said he intended to bring in an independent Australian expert to examine the body, Mabel replied that “Btw I spoke to the police and they told me that the family of our late Kevin can claim his body anytime.” That was followed by an indication that Apandi was also in touch.
“Message from the AG to me…. Speak to ACP Munu about COD [Cause of Death]”
‘Golden handshake’ to go away
Later, told the family was still seeking a second autopsy, she suggested that the three Morais brothers sign a “golden handshake” of RM580,000 from the attorney general’s office representing Kevin’s pension and an extra settlement as a declaration to signal a settlement. Charles refused the money and his lawyer made plain that legally anything payable to Kevin ought not to be given to individuals but added to his estate and divided according to the terms of his will.
Additional texts indicated that Mutthiah continued to push for them to take the gratuity, pension and golden handshake, which appears to have been highly unusual use of public money and well outside standard procedure for dealing with the death of an employee.
Two months after Mabel had told Charles “Okay I respect your decision” not to take action until after a second post mortem, she was texting the gangster brother, Richard, who has had a long list of encounters with the law that his brother should watch out for being a nuisance to the AG:
“Any updates on Suresh [Charles]? Has he told u anytg? The [AG’s] chambers ur beginning to querie abt hm, they seem to know he is mischievous an has other motives, they have read everythg on him an believe he is staling (sic) Kevin’s cremation coz of other matters affecting him, he shld be careful if I was hm” [text message from AG’s Special Assistant, Mabel Muttiah, to brother Richard Morais 26/11/15]
Eventually, Richard Morais – the “gangster” – showed up at the hospital, apparently with the permission of the attorney general’s office, and claimed Kevin’s body without the knowledge of the family and had it burned immediately.
Richard Morais figured in the 2013 murder of the late Arab Malaysian Bank founder Hussain Najadi. The bank is now known as AmBank. Najadi’s son, Pascal, has repeatedly charged that his father was assassinated because he had information on corruption within UMNO. Richard Morais was present at the temple where Najadi had gone ostensibly to attempt to resolve a property dispute