Wednesday, May 29, 2013
An officer with newly-appointed minister Datuk Paul Low and the police have been accused of “harassing” the family members of police custodial death victim N. Dharmendran who was allegedly beaten to death in a lockup earlier this month.
PKR vice president N Surendran claimed today the deceased’s father, G Nagayarasamy, had received calls from an official purportedly working for Putrajaya’s anti-graft minister Datuk Paul Low who asked to meet him “secretly” and told him to stop engaging their current pro-opposition lawyers.
“They received a call from Mr Ravendran from the PMO who told Nagayarasamy that he wanted to meet to talk about the death and not to inform the lawyers and meet secretly,” Surendran told a press conference held in PKR’s headquarters here.
“He was also told not to engage these lawyers and said ‘we have other lawyers for you’. The minister that is his boss is Chinese. This minister is Paul Low,” the newly elected Padang Serai MP said in the presence of Dharmendran’s father and wife, M. Marry.
After the father had rejected the suggestion, the official continued to call Nagayarasamy yesterday to which he replied: “if you come here I will pour hot water on you”.
Surendran claimed the incident was a clear indicator that the government intends to cover up the brutal murder of Dharmendran.
A post-mortem released on May 22 showed the 31 year-old was beaten to death while he was detained in the city police headquarters earlier this month.
“There is an attempt to interfere by asking the family to disengage with their lawyers. This is clearly an attempt to cover up the case,” the PKR vice president said.
Authorities have categorised the case as murder and said they are now questioning police officers involved as well as recording statements from Dharmendran’s family members.
The family lawyers, however, said the police are stalling as no one has been charged despite the pathologist report having been issued seven days ago, and claimed of an attempt at covering up the death.
“Why do they need to record my statement? Why the need to take statement from the father, grandmother, uncle, me?
“The report is already out saying my husband was beaten to death. They are just trying to waste time,” a visibly upset Marry told reporters.
Surendran noted that Putrajaya had allegedly tried to do the same with the family members of another high-profile police custodial death victim, C. Sugumar, when the opposition had threaten to use the issue as campaign fodder in Election 2013.
“We want an explanation from the prime minister. Why is the family harassed? Why have the police taken statement from the wife, the family and even the lawyers? What have they got to do with the case? Stop playing this delaying tactics,” he said.
Sugumar had allegedly been beaten to death by several policemen in Ulu Langat, Selangor, just before the May elections. Fearing a potential Indian voter backlash, the case forced Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to intervene by instructing the authorities to solve the issue immediately.
According to rights group Suaram, there were 218 cases of alleged deaths in custody in Malaysia from 2000 to this month, with its records showing that nine of those cases occurred in 2012, while five cases took place this year.
Dharmendran’s death joins a list of other alleged police killings like that of Chang Chin Te earlier this year, A. Kugan and R. Gunasegaran’s deaths in 2009, the deadly police shooting of 14-year-old schoolboy Aminulrasyid Amzah in 2010, and various other fatal police shootings in the past two years.
A United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 2010 visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres reported in 2011 that between 2003 and 2007, “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities.”
The Bar Council, civil society groups and several politicians from both sides of the divide have called for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to reform the police force since 2006.