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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CCTVs were 'dummies', cop tells inquiry

The CCTV system at the police station where the death-in-custody victim S Balamurugan was allegedly beaten were merely "dummies", an Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) public inquiry was told today.
The officer in charge of the Bandar Baru Klang police station ASP Harun Abu Bakar said the CCTV system was incapable of making recordings, nor was anyone posted to monitor the CCTV screens.
He explained that the cameras were placed to deter theft within the police station, as only him and his deputy knew that the cameras weren't recording.
The screens for the CCTV were also placed in a room where the station's personnel frequently come in and out, he said.
He answered in the affirmative when asked whether the cameras merely served as dummies.
When questioned by the inquiry chairperson Yaacob Md Sam as to why no one was posted to monitor the CCTV system, Harun explained that this was because the cameras were installed at his predecessor's own initiative, rather than using funds from either the Home Ministry or the police force.
"So there is no need to include it as our tasks," he told the inquiry.
He said the premises where the station is located was formerly rented out to gambling den operators and the landlord had turned the cameras over to the police as a gift.
However, he said he wouldn't have accepted the gift, as doing so may raise questions in the eyes of the public.
Station not equipped for interrogations
Meanwhile, when queried about the moment when Balamurugan was brought into his police station on the night of Feb 6, Harun he was aware that the officers involved were from outside his jurisdiction, namely from the North Klang police district headquarters.
However, he said he was not aware that they were from the serious crimes division until after Balamurugan was found dead in the wee hours of Feb 8.
"If I had known, I would not allow the interrogation to take place," he said.
He said interrogations are prohibited at his police station because it is not equipped nor gazetted for this purpose. However, it is not an offence to ask questions at the station for the purpose of documentation.
The public hearing in Putrajaya was held to investigate the custodial death of Balamurugan. Two witnesses - K Tamilarasan and a juvenile by the surname Ang - had previously testified that they and Balamurugan had been beaten while they were held at the Bandar Baru Klang police station.
Balamurugan later succumbed to his injuries at the North Klang police district headquarters, despite a magistrate ordering his release earlier.
Did not witness beatings
Meanwhile, the investigating officer, inspector Vickeswaran Poobalan testified that he had heard a commotion emanating from where Balamurugan, Tamilasan, and Ang were held.
However, he said he had not witnessed any beatings.
He said the noise was preventing him from communicating with his lance corporal Anwar Nyat, who was preparing a report about the trio's arrest.
"I heard noises coming from the room. I entered and I asked what's happening, and they (the suspects and the police personnel) were just looking at me," he said, adding that room had gone quiet.
He said lance corporal Mohd Fuad Bahadin, who was next to the door when he entered, then assured him, "Everything is okay. Ang is 'gentle', he can show us the way."
He said Ang then confirmed that he would lead the police to a fourth suspect, while Balamurugan was standing and supposedly pleaded "Please. If anything we can settle here."
He said he told Balamurugan that he is getting old and should sit down.
The officer from South Klang's serious crime division inspector T Mohaneswaran was standing next to Balamurugan at the time and told off the latter as well.
"Oh, now you're getting bold asking a senior to settle," Vickeswaran recounted Mohaneswaran saying.
'Loud voices'
However when Yaacob questioned him on the noise he had heard, Vickeswaran was evasive and said the room was small and noises became very loud if a few people were talking.
After being repeatedly questioned, Vickeswaran said he had heard raised voices, including what sounded like one of the officers raising his voice to ask a question.

However, he stressed that he had not seen any beating.
Previously, Anwar had reportedly described the sounds as "screaming... calling out to stop and cries for help".
However, he said he did not check on the cause of the screaming.
Tamilarasan had testified that that he was the first to be beaten by Mohaneswaran, while Balamurugan last, but neither of them screamed.
It was only Ang, who was beaten second, had pleaded in Tamil for the beating to stop.
The EAIC public inquiry continues tomorrow.- Mkini

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