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Monday, February 27, 2017

Prosecutors bid to overturn coroner's 'beaten to death' verdict

The Attorney-General's Chambers has initiated a legal challenge to overturn a coroner's verdict on engineer P Karuna Nithi, who died while in police custody four years ago.
Negeri Sembilan head of prosecution Nik Azhan Hakim today submitted an application to the Seremban High Court stating the coroner's verdict that Karuna Nithi beaten to death by police personnel and inmates was flawed.
Nik Azhan claimed that coroner Jagjit Singh Bant Singh's had wrongly rejected the testimony of pathologist Dr Sharifah Safoorah Syed Alwee, who claimed that Karuna Nithi died of liver complications.
"If one were to look at the verdict of the coroner, who stated that the findings by pathologist Sharifah were not accurate, (because) he failed to consider the report by six pathologists on Sharifah's findings," said Nik Azhan.
His seven page application for review also claimed that the coroner's verdict was based on probability and not strong facts, because the coroner failed take into consideration that there was no testimony which could challenge Sharifah's findings.
Nik Azhan also stated that the coroner's findings were based on questions asked by co-counsel Dr Deeraj Bhar, who acted as a lawyer for the family and was not involved in the autopsy. Deeraj is a trained medical doctor who also took up law.
'Prosecutors acting like defence counsels'
Co-counsel for Karuna Nithi's family, Eric Paulsen, told Malaysiakini that there has been several good verdicts from coroners lately after the government allowed Sessions Court judges to be coroners instead of magistrates.

"We have seen the C Sugumar, P Chandran and the Karuna Nithi case and we can contrast this with (the string of) open verdicts (in the past)," he said.
However, Paulsen expressed concern that the prosecutors are not attempting to act on the coroner's verdict and arrest those responsible for Karuna Nithi's death.
"What is the point of holding inquest then? The AG's Chambers seems to be acting more like defence counsel for the police rather than acting as the guardian of the public interest," said Paulsen.
The hearing of the review will be heard by the Seremban High Court on March 21.- Mkini

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