KUALA LUMPUR: Can police stop their investigation into a crime if the victim and suspect decided to 'kawtim' (settle) their case?
The answer to the lingering question is Yes.
The poser raised by Malaysians on social media following recent development involving a man who was caught on camera bashing up a 67-year old doctor during a road rage incident.
It was reported that police dropped the case after the 27-year old suspect and victim's families reached an agreement not to pursue the matter.
Prominent lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the police or prosecutor from the Attorney-General's Chamber can use their discretion to dismiss the case if a victim decides to drop the report.
"This thing usually happens when the victim has no interest in taking the case further.
"In the event that this case goes to court, the accused may argue that the victim's provocation was the cause of the incident," he said when contacted today.
Haniff said it was not wrong for both sides to reach an agreement as the case had yet to be registered in court.
"If the victim does not wish to pursue, the public cannot force him to do it," he said.
Criminal lawyer Ahmad Shahmil Azad Abdul Hamid said such scenario often occurs in petty crimes, where prosecutors can use discretion to drop the case.
"This happens when both sides agree to settle their dispute among themselves without any force or threat.
"The police will then refer to the prosecutor whether to classify the case as no further action.
"However, the situation would be different if it involves more serious crimes, such as rape, murder, or armed robbery.
"In such case, the prosecution or police cannot simply drop the case even if the victim suddenly decides to marry the suspect," he said.
It was reported that a suspect in the road rage incident was arrested last Tuesday but released after his two-day remand order lapsed.
Ampang Jaya district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohamad Farouk Eshak said thi shappened after both sides decided to resolve the matter on their own.
However, many expressed outrage over the decision on social media, with some urging the police to open another investigation into the suspect.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has also chipped in by calling for zero tolerance against such incidents.