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Monday, May 31, 2021

Klang MP: Let EAIC and Suhakam probe deaths in custody for now


Klang MP Charles Santiago has suggested that in the absence of the long-delayed independent commission to look into complaints against the police, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) and Suhakam are best-suited to oversee the probes into the custodial deaths of A Ganapathy, S Sivabalan and S Surendran.

"Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code mandates an inquiry into cause of death of a person in custody of police or in any asylum.

"This would cover Ganapathy and Sivabalan's death in Gombak police stations and Surendran's death in Simpang Renggam prison.

"In the absence of a properly constituted Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), I suggest the government call on the expertise of EAIC and Suhakam to oversee these probes," Charles (above) told Malaysiakini.

Section 334 states that "When any person dies while in the custody of the police or in a psychiatric hospital or prison, the officer who had the custody of that person or was in charge of that psychiatric hospital or prison, as the case may be, shall immediately give intimation of such death to the nearest magistrate, and the magistrate or some other magistrate shall, in the case of a death in the custody of the police, and in other cases may, if he thinks expedient, hold an inquiry into the cause of death."

Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani

Charles said this is the first test for the new Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani. 

"The public is clamouring for these investigations and they must be seen to be independent and transparent.

"The cases are mounting and he needs to take a decision to show that he means to tackle the issue seriously," he said.

On Friday, the Home Ministry directed the Royal Malaysian Police and the relevant authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into deaths under custody following the stipulated procedure under the law.

The ministry in a statement today said it was also prepared to improve the standard operating procedure (SOP) on the detention of suspects in lockups to ensure deaths under custody did not recur.

The statement followed the handover of a memorandum about deaths under custody by a Pakatan Harapan representative to the ministry, calling for a special independent task force to be set up to investigate the recent deaths of Ganapathy and Sivabalan.

Charles said he was not suggesting that either EAIC or Suhakam replace the IPCMC in the long run.

"For the long-term future, we need a strong IPCMC with the power to prosecute, which neither EAIC nor Suhakam has.

"However, both bodies have their lawyers and investigation teams. EAIC did a very (good) job on the inquest into the death of S Balamurugan at the Klang Utara district police headquarters in 2017.

"Suhakam also has experience with the inquires into the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat.

"So, I am suggesting EAIC and Suhakam as a stopgap measure. We are looking for transparency, not another case file only investigated by the police themselves, given to a DPP and sitting in some drawer somewhere," he said.

Ceremony to pay last respects to A Ganapathy

Ganapathy was reportedly arrested on Feb 24 to assist in a probe linked to his brother who was wanted by the police. On March 11, the deceased's mother, S Thanaletchumy, claimed that her son was beaten while in custody.

The claim was made after she was contacted by a police officer on March 8, only to be informed that her son was freed and being treated at Selayang Hospital's intensive care unit.

Ganapathy died in hospital on April 18.

Police are also investigating two Malaysiakini journalists and Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman over the Ganapathy case. 

Security guard Sivabalan died about 70 minutes after he was arrested by Gombak police on May 20. 

Surendran, 21, was held under a law that allows for detention without trial and reportedly died in Kluang Hospital weeks after being moved to Simpang Renggam prison.  - Mkini

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