Tuesday, June 25, 2013

IGP responsible for Kugan’s death in police custody, court rules

Malaysia's national police chief was responsible for the death of detainee A. Kugan, who was physically tortured during interrogation by the police four years ago, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled today in a civil suit.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk V. T. Singham said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who was then the Selangor chief of police, is liable to misfeasance in the case

The judge's decision is expected to open the floodgates to possibly many other civil suits against the police,

Singham, in allowing the negligence suit, said he also believed that the injuries inflicted on Kugan could not have been done by one officer and that the senior officers cannot plead ignorance.

"This court also finds several glaring material contradictions between Khalid and other witnesses in respect to the investigation into the death of the deceased," he said.

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"No person in any position or rank when testifying in court should take this court for granted and attempt to suppress the truth to escape liability."

Singham commended human rights lawyer N. Surendran who brought up this case and helped pursue a second postmortem which later showed abuse.

"If not for him, this matter would have been swept under the carpet."

He also said there was an urgent need to consider the royal commission's recommendation to set up the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission) due to the rise in custodial deaths.

Singham awarded Indra RM851,700 in assault and battery, false imprisonment, misfeasance, and pain and suffering damages.

Kugan's family has filed a RM100 million claim against the police and the government, but specifically against Khalid, alleging that he tried to cover up the cause of death.

His mother, N. Indra, named one of the victim’s interrogating officers, former constable V. Navindran, as a defendant, among others. The mother alleged that the defendants failed to ensure the safety, health and welfare of Kugan while he was in custody.

Kugan, then 22, was arrested in Puchong on Jan 14, 2009, and held overnight at the Puchong Jaya police lock-up before police obtained a remand order.

He was taken to the Taipan USJ, Subang Jaya police station two days later for questioning and was found dead four days after that.

Navindran was the only one held responsible for Kugan's death. He was convicted and sentenced to three years' jail. He is appealing his conviction. - June 26, 2013.

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