Thursday, December 07, 2006

Body snatchers update: Dec 7th

Here's the latest update on the body snatcher's case where an ex-Muslim's body was taken from his family for a Muslim burial even though he had reverted to Christianity and his papers testify to the fact.

The cabinet seems to be getting into it.

Cabinet wants religious status of dead man verified

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has directed the Attorney-General to look into the case of Rayappan Anthony to confirm his religious status, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He added that the Cabinet had discussed the issue and had agreed to hand over the case to the A-G as it was important that it be resolved.

“We want the A-G to find out his religious status, and if he is not a Muslim the authorities should hand over the remains to Rayappan’s family,” he told reporters after launching Malaysian Bio Industry 2006 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here yesterday.

Rayappan Anthony
Abdullah was asked to comment on the issue of Rayappan, 71, who died last Wednesday, and whose body is caught in a tussle between the Selangor Islamic Religious Council and his family members.

Rayappan converted to Islam in 1990 following a second marriage, and was said to have converted back to Christianity in 1999, and subsequently confirmed his profession of the Christian faith by way of a statutory declaration before a Commissioner of Oaths.

The relevant documents prepared by a lawyer and executed by the Commissioner for Oaths were submitted to the National Registration Department, which accepted the declaration and reinstated Rayappan’s religious status to Christianity.

It was also said that the MyKad of the deceased (issued in 2003) had “Christianity” printed below his name.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday that the family of the late Rayappan Anthony should go to the Syariah Court and give evidence.

“They are being asked to give evidence. There is a precedent in the case of Nyonya Tahir; the family went to submit evidence. My personal view is that they should do this if they want a solution,” he said.

Nazri expressed optimism that the Syariah Court would be fair to the family of Rayappan and did not foresee any problem.

“It is clear he had gone back to his earlier faith, and the identity card does not state that he is a Muslim,” he added.

AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said all parties must respect each other's religion and should sit down and discuss the matter to reach an amicable solution.

“Let us sit down and discuss the problem. Solutions can only be found if all parties sit down and look at the problem in a fair and equitable manner.

“Everyone must respect each other's religion and try to solve it amicably without immediately taking any stand. I will be meeting with several Islamic religious bodies including the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS),'' he said, stressing that he could only advise the religious bodies as he has no jurisdiction over the Syariah Court.

Abdul Gani said his role was to see that justice was done based on the law and facts and was sure the parties concerned would listen to good sense as was in the case of Nonya Tahir.

And the Sharia court, which should not have jurisdiction in the first place, is transfering it to a a higher, but still Sharia, appeals court.

Syariah Appeal Court to review Rayappan case

SHAH ALAM: The Syariah Appeal Court will review the order that granted the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) control over the late Rayappan Anthony’s body.

Syariah High Court judge Abu Zaky Mohammad transferred the case to the highest Syariah court yesterday after referring the matter to Selangor Syariah Court chief judge Johdi Toha.

“At this point, this court does not have the jurisdiction to decide on the review of this case,” Abu Zaky said.

Section 68 of the Administration of the Religion

of Islam (State of Selangor)

Enactment 2003 spells out

the Syariah Appeal Court’s supervisory and revisionary power over the Syariah High Court.

The same section of the enactment states that all proceedings in the Syariah High Court must be stayed in the event of a review by the Syariah Appeal Court.

The case will be mentioned on Tuesday for a hearing date for the review to be fixed.

Meanwhile, Mais will be applying to be admitted as a party in the civil suit filed by Rayappan’s 65-year-old widow Lourdes Mary Maria Soosay for the release of the van driver’s body to her.

In her application, Lourdes Mary had only named the Kuala Lumpur Hospital director-general and the Government as defendants.

Lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, who had been holding a watching brief for the Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association in Rayappan’s case at the Syariah Court, told reporters that his firm had been appointed by the council for the matter.

“Mais gave the letter of appointment addressed to my firm today (yesterday). We have instructions to file an application for Mais to be admitted as a party in the civil matter,” the lawyer said.

Zainul Rijal added that the application could be filed as soon as today.

Lourdes Mary’s application is already fixed for hearing before High Court judge Justice Kang Hwee Gee at 9am on Monday.

The high-profile tussle for Rayappan’s remains began on Nov 30 when officers from the religious authorities stopped the van driver’s family from claiming his body, alleging he was a Muslim.

Rayappan had died the day before due to complications from diabetes at the KLH.

His family acknowledged that he had been a Muslim before but claimed he returned to Christianity seven years ago.

They also claimed that the National Registration Department had issued Rayappan with a MyKad in 2003 in his original name and stated his religion as Christianity.

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