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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ex-IGP demands IPCMC after Kugan verdict

(The Malay Mail) - Former national police chief Tan Sri Musa Hassan has added his weight to pressure the government to introduce the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) after the current Inspector-General of Police (IGP) was ruled responsible for a suspect’s death under custody.
In a landmark civil suit on Wednesday, the High Court here ruled that Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, at that time the Selangor police chief, was liable to misfeasance in A. Kugan’s death behind bars in 2009. 
“You need monitoring, of course, on the police,” Musa (picture) told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.
“But as I’ve said earlier, you need to do a bit of changes in the clauses of the IPCMC because they don’t allow for appeal once a decision has been made by the IPCMC,” said the former IGP.
High Court judge Datuk V.T. Singham was reported as saying that the injuries on Kugan, a car thief suspect, could not have been inflicted by only one policeman with senior officers pleading ignorance.
The civil trial reportedly heard that Khalid told a press conference in 2009 that Kugan had died because his lungs were filled with water.
A second autopsy, however, showed that Kugan had died of kidney failure after being severely beaten and starved.
Former police constable V. Navindran, who was the only one charged over Kugan’s death, was sentenced last year to three years’ jail for causing hurt to the 23-year-old.
Navindran is appealing the conviction.
English-language daily The Star also reported Singham as saying that the IPCMC needed to be set up immediately to protect those who have been detained by the police.
The historic judgment comes after three policemen were charged recently with murdering another suspect, N. Dhamendran, on May 21.
The 32-year-old former lorry driver had been held under remand in the Kuala Lumpur police contingent headquarters over the shooting of two men in the capital city.
R. Sri Sanjeevan, chairman of crime watchdog MyWatch, said it was “high time for the IPCMC”.
“Judge V.T. Singham called for the IPCMC,” Sanjeevan told The Malay Mail Online recently.
“If a currently serving judge can say that, it’s so obvious that throughout the trial, they have seen a lot of police violence that occurred in Kugan’s case,” he added.
Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said the court verdict on Kugan’s death highlighted the need for an “independent oversight and disciplinary body dedicated solely for the police”.
“The EAIC should not be re-casted to deal with the police as it has too many other agencies within its purview,” Leong told The Malay Mail Online in a recent interview, referring to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).
The EAIC was set up in 2011 to monitor complaints of abuse of power in the police force and 18 other enforcement agencies. But the commission has often been criticised as a “toothless” body for its lack of prosecutorial powers.
“There is... no good reason why decent, honest and hard-working police personnel should fear the IPCMC,” the lawyer said.
“They should in fact welcome it. Only those who are prone to misconduct themselves would fear the IPCMC,” Leong added.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, however, told Parliament last Wednesday that the proposed IPCMC could not be implemented as it contradicted Article 7 of the Federal Constitution and the Extra-Territorial Offences Act 1976.
Leong denied the IPCMC would violate Article 7 of the Federal Constitution, highlighting the provision only states “a person shall not be punished for an act or omission which was not punishable by law when it was done or made.”
“The IPCMC does not create any new offences or new punishments,” he noted.
“The IPCMC is merely a new body and mechanism to independently investigate whether there has been breaches of existing laws and offences and, if so, to impose existing punishments. Further, disciplinary action is different from criminal prosecution,” he said.
Nine deaths in police custody have occurred this year so far.
The last recorded is that of a 33-year-old Japanese man who died in his cell at the USJ8 police station lock-up in Subang Jaya on June 8.
Since 2006, the Bar Council and civil society have been pushing for the implementation of the IPCMC, which was mooted by a royal commission led by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.
The police top brass has repeatedly shot down all calls for its setting up.

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