Pachaee Pakiry, mother of injured prison inmate Chandran Muniandy, claimed that her son nodded when she asked him today whether he had been beaten-up in prison.
Chandran also nodded when asked if his toenails were pulled out in prison, Pachaee said.
An odd-job worker, he is currently awake after being unconscious since he was warded in the Seberang Jaya Hospital on Feb 8.
Chandran, 42 (photo), is serving a six months jail sentence in the Sungai Jawi Prison, and is expected to be released in May.
At a press conference in Komtar, Pachaee questioned her son's purported psychiatric condition.
"Why was he sent to the prison and not to the psychiatric ward, if indeed he has mental instability," Pachaee told reporters at the event organised by the Penang Task Force on Custodial Death, led by Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy.
"There were also claims that he had skin disease affecting his toe, and his toenails were removed due to this. However, he was healthy when he went to prison," Pachaee, 58, said.
She also raised suspicion over her's son speedy entry into prison.
"He was arrested, charged and sent to prison, all in less than 24 hours," she said.
Police, prison deny assault
On Feb 13, Penang Prisons director Kamarudzaman Mamat claimed Chandran was "mentally unstable" and was under psychiatric evaluation.
On the same day, Seberang Perai South police chief Shafee Abdul Samad said a preliminary investigation showed that Chandran fell in the toilet, injuring his head.
According to Shafee, Chandran was not assaulted, and his toenails were removed due to skin disease.
Ramasamy (photo) visited Chandran in the hospital on Tuesday, saying “I was happy to see him having his meal”.
“I was afraid he would die because he is a very frail man. He was earlier handcuffed to the hospital bed, I know that is the procedure, but it was not necessary as he could not run, being unconscious,” he said.
Ramasamy is upset that so far he has yet to receive an official report on the investigation into Chandran’s case, from Penang police chief Chuah Ghee Lye or from Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) chairperson Yacob Md Sam.
“All we get are official versions from the police and prison, but who will investigate them?
“EAIC is limited and as far as I know, it does not cover prison authorities,” Ramasamy pointed out.
He said the task force would continue to insist that the government forms the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
‘Treat prisoners as human beings’
Also present at the press conference were DAP Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, who is also the legal counsel in Chandran’s case, and Seberang Jaya Municipal Councillor David Marshal.
Ramasamy said Chandran would have to return to prison to serve the remaning four months of his sentence.
“We urge the prison authorities to treat him as human being, give him the necessary support so he can finish his prison sentence and return to his family,” he added.
Ramasamy said the task force is working on obtaining a medical report on Chandran’s condition.
Kulasegaran said prisons are supposed to be the safest place for prisoners, “but are they?”
“This is not one a one-off issue but a tip of the iceberg; many have gone to hell in these places,” he said.
Kulasegaran has taken up many of such cases, saying most have gone without action on the perpetrators.
“This is because those affected are victims of circumstances, they cannot speak up but we will continue to take up matter,” he added.
Kulasegaran said it was unfortunate that the police themselves objected to the proposal to establish the IPCMC, when it was first proposed by former chief justice Mohammed Dzaiddin Abdullah.
“It could have ensured zero deaths in custody, but this has not happened and the incidents continue to occur in police lock-ups or prison,” he said.
Statistics provided by the task force showed that Malaysia saw 14 deaths in custody in 2014, nine in 2015, three in 2016 and two up to February this year.
In Penang, there were nine custodial deaths in 2014, four in 2015 and none in 2016 and up to February this year.- Mkini