Report: Another death in police custody
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 ― A man died at the North Klang police station yesterday, just a few weeks after a detainee died in police custody in Pahang.
However, this time, according to The Star, the police allegedly defied court orders to release S. Bala Murugan, 44, and to bring him to a hospital, as they brought him back to custody instead.
The news report said the magistrate ordered Tuesday Bala’s release so he could seek medical attention after he was seen bleeding severely from the mouth when he was brought in to be remanded at the Klang court.
“At 6am (Wednesday), we received confirmation that Bala had died in police custody. There was no report of a re-arrest, which means Bala was held illegally after the magistrate ordered for him to be released, and he died in custody,” lawyer Gerard Lazarus was quoted as saying.
Based on claims by family members, the report said Bala was wrongfully arrested by the North Klang district police officers on Monday after he happened to be with two other men, one of whom was wanted by the police.
Gerard, in the news report, claimed that Bala was beaten while in detention and brought to the court that day.
“When I tried to clean him (Bala) up and asked him to drink some water, he ended up vomiting blood, and the magistrate saw all of this.
“That was when he (the magistrate) called the investigating officer of the case and asked for Bala to be released or taken to the hospital immediately.
“The investigating officer agreed and said he would do so. However, police officers later told the family that they needed to take Bala to the police station first before releasing him,” he was quoted as saying.
Gerard then claimed that he was told that the police refused to release Bala and that the next news they received was of the latter’s death.
He also reportedly said that Bala's family members were unhappy with the post mortem and wanted another to be conducted.
The news report, however, did not state the post mortem findings.
On January 18, Soh Kai Chiok, 49, reportedly died from inflammation of the intestine while under police custody in Bera after he was brought in for allegedly stealing bananas at a plantation.
Following this, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) announced a special task force to investigate Soh's death to identify if the police had mishandled the detention procedure.
Prior to this, in 2013, the EAIC found police misconduct in the case of N. Dharmendran, 32, who died in detention.
According to the EAIC report, four policemen in charge of questioning Dharmendran had beaten up the victim, causing massive bleeding from blunt force trauma leading to his death. Evidence showed he even had staple wounds to his ears.
The EAIC found the police later fabricated evidence to cover up the violent interrogation and recommended disciplinary action.
The policemen were charged but acquitted at the High Court last year.
However, the victim’s widow won a separate civil lawsuit to claim damages for Dharmendran’s death from the policemen.