Monday, June 3, 2013

Suspended - 4 cops linked to Dharmendran’s death in custody

The Home Ministry has ordered the suspension of the four policemen implicated in the death in custody of N. Dharmendran, as a high-powered investigating committee lead by the inspector-general of police himself continues to probe the matter.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi assured that they would not let off any individual responsible for deaths in custody, especially if investigations are done using methods outside of the force's approved standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Yes, that is being done,” he said in confirming that the four officers would be suspended from active duty.

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Earlier last week, the police revealed that the four policemen implicated in Dharmendran's death have been reassigned to desk duties pending the completion of the probe into the case.

The move however, sparked public outrage, with various groups demanding for their immediate suspension.

Among them, MIC strategic director S Vell Paari and several Indian-based NGOs have threatened to hold a street rally in protest over the deaths in custody of Dharmendran and two others in the past two weeks.

Zahid, who had earlier received a high-level delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), assured that the ministry is not taking the issue likely as proven by the decision to put IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar in charge of the probe and the review of the SOP for police investigations.

“I assure the public, be it those who are with the Government or otherwise, that as long as we are entrusted (with the task), we will not compromise on the issue of deaths in custody.

“What we are doing is within the standards that have been set internationally and within the country. To me, there is no need for street protests, because I and my deputy take a very deep interest in this.

“This is not just because we are in charge of the ministry, but also on humanitarian grounds... be assured that what the IGP is doing is good and we will do what is in the public's interest,” he said.

Earlier, ICRC head of operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Alain Aeschlimann, said they were happy that the Malaysian Government had pledged to continue to allow their organisation access to all prisons and immigration detention centres in efforts to improve conditions for inmates.

While he could not reveal details regarding their findings, observations and recommendations due to a confidentiality agreement with the Government, Aeschlimann noted that they had been cooperating well.

“When visiting prisons and other places, we will report to the authorities and make recommendations if it is relevant... I think there is really a will from the authorities to comply with international standards,” he said.

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