Malaysia's anti-graft agency grilling of Najib's stepson Riza unprecedented, say legal experts

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PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The grilling of Mr Riza Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak, for four consecutive days by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has the legal community talking.

Retired federal prosecutor Datuk Stanley Isaacs said there is no law to prevent any of the investigating authorities, be it the police or the MACC, to conduct investigations in the way they think fit and proper.

"There is no time limit to interrogate any person. It is up to them to conduct the investigation and if it is a complicated matter that requires extensive questioning, the fact that it takes a few days to complete cannot be grounds to complain of unfair treatment," he said.

In regards to the length of time for questioning or interrogation of a witness or an accused person, the former head of prosecution at the Attorney General's Chambers said there were internal rules that must be strictly observed and respected by the authorities in favour of the witness or suspect.

"The rules include that the person being questioned is treated fairly and with dignity and they are given sufficient rest, food, drink and sleep if they should be detained overnight. There should not be undue concern about prolonged questioning.

"The overriding objective of a police investigation is for the purpose of administration of law and justice," he said.

Lawyer Datuk Rosal Azimin Ahmad said it was quite unprecedented for Mr Riza to be grilled for up to 30 hours since Tuesday (July 3).

"Given the high profile nature of the case, I am not surprised that the interrogation has gone on for this long.

"Normally, for other MACC cases, the suspect or person of interest would have been remanded," he said when contacted.

He said Mr Riza should be considered "lucky" to be given the chance to go back home after each interrogation session.

"It shows that the anti-graft body is not being overzealous and allows some leeway given the significance of the case," he said.

On whether an investigation can still be conducted while someone has been charged, Mr Rosal Azimin said it was a non-issue as resuming the investigation is an effort to tighten the prosecution's case.

Lawyer Datuk Victor Isaacs said such a prolonged interrogation was very unfair to the person being questioned.

"Interrogation should be done during reasonable hours. From 9am to 4pm is reasonable," he said, adding that subjecting someone to such a long interrogation was not only legally wrong but morally wrong as well.

On Tuesday, Mr Riza was questioned for nine hours, followed by another six hours the following day. He was also called in on Thursday and Friday.

Mr Riza's interrogation is set to enter its fifth consecutive day on Saturday.

He arrived at the MACC headquarters on Friday wearing a yellow T-shirt, black blazer and slacks at about 9.45am in a black tinted Audi, escorted by his lawyers in a different car.

The film producer was spotted leaving the compound for Friday prayers at about 1.10pm and returned at 2.30pm. He left the building at about 7.30pm.

Mr Riza is being grilled by the MACC over allegations that 1MDB funds were used to finance films which his company produced.

He is the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures which, among others, produced the film The Wolf of Wall Street.

It is alleged that his company had used funds belonging to 1MDB to make Hollywood films.

He is one of Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's two children from a previous marriage.

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