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Kugan: The Malaysian Police Brutality, Torture and Murder

Contributed by Anonymous on Monday, January 26 @ 07:43:28 CST

Social
G.Kanchana 24.01.09
 
The front pages of Tamil dailies on the 22nd and 23rd January 2009 splashed out the
gruesome injuries that were discovered on Kugan Ananthan 22 years of age that died
in police custody on January 20th. Why didn’t the post mortem state the cause of the
terrible wounds, marks and bruises found on Kurgan’s body? Why are the authorities
highlighting more on the fact of trespass at the mortuary or as to why T.Murugiah or
Devamani were at the scene and statements being taken when a most brutal murder has
been committed?


Just how much do Malaysians have to put up with police brutality and deaths in
custody. In particular just how much do we Malaysian Indians have to put up with, as
the remains of our fellow Indians are returned either with multiple shot wounds,
decomposed or brutally beaten and  tortured with severe marks and bruises, deep cuts
and blood oozing from their mouth and nose? It sends a shiver to think of the pain,
agony and fear they would have undergone at the point of arrest or behind the scenes
while in police custody before they eventually died.
 
We had barely recovered from the December 23rd 2008 incident of B.Prabakar where 10
police personnel at the Brickfields Police District HQ had beaten him with a rubber
hose, splashed boiling water on his body, and was asked to stand on a chair with a
cloth around his neck with a threat to hang him.  At a time when the entire police
force is under scrutiny both nationally and internationally they have the audacity
to once again behave in such barbaric ways?
 
It is now the era of numerous incidents of police brutality against criminal
suspects resulting in serious injuries and deaths. There is an assumption that if a
suspect has been arrested, they must be guilty. Just how many times do we hear the
lies   that the deceased attacked first and the police acted in self defense or that
the majority of deaths were the result of attempts to escape from police custody  
or drowning or detainees dying of “breathing difficulties”, “heart attack," "stomach
ulcer" or “natural causes.” Especially so when they were previously healthy persons.
A similar pattern seems to follow in all these injuries and deaths. How easy it is
to make allegations after the police have shot those dead - and having no need
anymore to proof in court with real evidence the truth of the allegation.


In 1998 in Tumpat, Kelantan six men were shot dead by the police using 47 bullets.
There was no evidence to the police’s claim that they acted in “self-defense” when
they were shot at by the men. Multiple shot marks were found on the head, forehead
and eyes of the six victims. It was never established that gunshots came from the 6
men as claimed by the police, more shockingly no forensic investigation was ever
carried out on the guns allegedly seized from the deceased persons.
 
In Nilai, Negeri Sembilan V. Vikines, 19, Puvaneswaran, 24, and T. Kathiravan, 25,
were shot dead after the police said they ignored orders to surrender and opened
fire at the police. There were bruises and marks on the deceased’s face, legs and
back. Vikines's was said to be an innocent schoolboy who still lived with his
family. There was great suspicion of foul play. There were no witnesses, no police
cars with bullet shots, no wounded policemen. Vikines’s father G. Vesvanathan
accused Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Salleh Mat Som of being a
“liar” for claiming that his son was a "marksman and weapons expert." Vikines’s
uncle, Silva Govindasamy, questioned the police’s claim that his nephew was involved
in about 20 criminal cases. "If he was a suspect in so many cases, why didn’t the
police approach the school or family? The boy has never been arrested, never
harassed, never had a criminal record. The family also
alleged that the police instructed the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang not
to conduct a second post-mortem on Vikines’s body nor cooperate with them.
 
In September 1999  a police constable, shot and killed Dr. Tai Eng Teck in a car
when the latter tried to flee after being “caught” in a compromising position with a
Muslim girl. The intention to cause death was evident here as the shots were fired
nonstop without knowing who or how many people were in the car and what they were
doing.  The lady who had been with the victim during the incident, testified that
they panicked when they heard a loud knock on the windscreen of the car, which was
parked at the LRT station. She said they became even more petrified when they heard
shouts of anger, and the victim decided to drive away fearing that the people were
criminal, robbers or vice officers.
 
In August 2002 the semi-decomposed body of Vivashanu Pillai was found in a river
after the police claimed that he must have drowned after escaping from the custody
of the Dang Wangi Police Station in Kuala Lumpur. The family alleged that he was
killed while in police custody and his body was thereafter dumped into the river
 
In June 2002, Tharma Rajen 20 died under mysterious cir*****stances while in the
custody of the police. In the official post-mortem, this previously healthy young
man apparently died of pneumonia, although a different private post-mortem said that
he died of tuberculosis and observed that the body was “malnourished and emaciated.”
There were allegations of Tharma Rajen being beaten up while in police custody.
Repeated pleadings made by Tharma Rajen and his family members that he be taken to
the hospital were ignored.
 
In July 2002,  M. Ragupathy 22  was arrested together with nine other persons after
fleeing from an illegal gaming outlet following a dispute with the proprietor.
Ragupathy had a heart condition and undergone a heart operation with a visible
8-inch scar running below his neck across his chest. He complained of chest pains.
His condition worsened unable to eat and vomiting. Ragupathy and his friends made
repeated pleas for medical attention, and his special cir*****stances were conveyed to
the police but to no avail. On 26 July, the police finally brought him to a
government clinic, where an assistant treated him, as the doctor was absent. The
assistant said that he was “treated” for asthma, as that was what the police told
him about the victim.. His condition further deteriorated. On 27 July, the police
took him to Putrajaya Hospital. He was pronounced dead the next day.
                                                                                                                                               

In February 2003, Prakash Moses collapsed while being detained at the Jalan Hang
Tuah Police Station Detention Centre. He died three days later, at the KL Hospital.
His son, Steven Moses, claimed that there was a gash on his father’s head that was
likely
to have caused his death. and that his father was well the last time he saw him,
three days before his death.
 
In March, 2003 Kannan Kanthan, 45, died in Batu Pahat Police Station in Johor after
being arrested three days earlier by the police. While at court he was in good
health but at the mortuary, there were injuries on the left eye and right hand and a
swollen neck.
 
In July, 2003 Ulaganathan Muniandy, 19, died in the Kajang Police Station, Selangor
after being arrested and detained. According to his mother, she visited her son four
times, and on the last occasion, she saw that he had bruises on his eyes and
suffered other injuries, and that he could not sit properly. The police claimed that
Ulaganathan died from asthma, a cause disputed by the mother as she said that her
son was healthy and did not suffer from asthma. Further, the burial certificate
issued by the Kajang Hospital only said that the cause of death was “undetermined.”
 
In August 2003  28-year-old Ho Kwai See died at the Sungai Buloh Prison in August
after earlier being detained for a week by the Kota Damansara police in Selangor.
According to the post-mortem findings, he died from a "perforated ulcer." Family
members suspected foul play after seeing bruises on the body and sought a second
post-mortem. His brother wanted the authorities to explain how an apparently healthy
person had died so suddenly while in custody. He claimed his brother did not have
any illness and he did not have any stomach pains. There were a lot of blue black
marks on his body.  He said that he was unaware of his brother’s arrest and only
from an anonymous telephone call informing him that his brother had died.
 
In October, 2003 Ravichandran Ramayah, 38, died a week after being arrested and
detained by the Penang North East Police Station. Family members claimed that
medical needs were not provided to. Even the order of a magistrate that he be
brought to a hospital for medical attention was not adhered.
 
In December, 2003 Veerasamy Gopal, 52, died in the Ampang Police Station in Selangor
after being detained for four days. Police claim that he had died from an infection
of the pancreas was contradicted by his family members who alleged that he had been
assaulted in the lock-up, leading to his death. 
 
In December, 22-year-old L.Yoges Rao died while in the custody of the Sitiawan
Police Station in Perak. Yoges was arrested on drug-related charges and brought to
his home by six police personnel who proceeded to assault Yoges by punching him
several times in his stomach and abdomen. They then took Yoges into one of the rooms
and locked the room from the inside where screams of pain and pleas with the police
to stop assaulting him were heard.  When he was brought out of the room about half
an hour later, he was vomiting blood.   All of this was witnessed by his sister who
was at home.  He died in police custody the next day. Despite evidence of abuse on
Yoges’ body, the burial permit stated that he had died of a stomach ulcer.
 
In February, police personnel were alleged to have beaten P. Lingeswaran together
with another 19-year-old, P. Poobalan, while the two were being detained at the
Subang Jaya Police Station in Selangor. According to a police report, the duo was
arrested and blindfolded at the police station before they were beaten with rubber
hoses. Poobalan had red bruises of about 6-inches long on his back and his right
hand. There were also swellings on his head, feet and the soles of his feet. As for
Lingeswaran, there were (similar) bruises on both his shoulders.
 
In the famous Francis Udayappan case 2004 his mother Sara Lily accused the police of
beating Francis to death and dumping the body into the river. Her lawyers P.
Uthayakumar and N.Surendran insisted there were many ‘contradictions and gaps’ in
the evidence provided by the police and that potential witnesses were not called to
testify.
 
P.Uthayakumar has aggressively campaigned against police brutality, fatal shootings
and deaths of suspects while in police custody.  He had campaigned both locally and
internationally through the NGO Police Watch and Human Rights Committee. He had sent
scores of letters to the Prime Minister and the Ministries concerned. As a result he
was intimidated, harassed and persecuted. However as a result in the years 2005,
2006 and 2007 there was a reduction in police shoot to death cases.  The year 2008
has seen a marked and sharp increase in the police shooting dead suspects and death
in custody.. Since Uthayakumar’s  incarceration  his brother P.Waythamoorthy
(although in exile overseas) has similarly written scores of similar letters to stop
police brutality after  cases such as Logeswaran and his father who was beaten and
tortured by policemen, who later also committed arson . Similarly in the case of 
M.Augustine and M.Jegathesan who were shot dead
and where six Malaysians were shot in just one day for merely being suspects.
 
A string of vicious murders by the police on suspects have left the nation to loathe
and distrust the police force. It is difficult to believe that these deaths are
caused by the very institution that is supposed to protect and preserve justice,
even to those who are “suspected individuals.” This is not the usual situation of
having to put up with police corruption, misconduct, mistreatment and
heavy-handedness as part of our everyday life. This is murder of the worst kind!
 
It will continue to happen for as long as the police have the discretion and power
in their hands to interprete as they like the Federal Constitution and legal
provisions such as Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Emergency
Ordinance thus denying the basic rights such as the suspect’s right to counsel and
medical treatment. Here the police are above the law. 
Malaysia by not ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture has failed
to adhere yet again to another international human rights standard thus the police
use unacceptable levels of violence in apprehending and investigating alleged
criminals. Further  the readiness of magistrates to grant remand orders without
considering  and scrutinising the propriety of the arrest, the investigation done in
the  preceding 24 hours,  the connection between the suspect and the crime ,whether
it was necessary to further investigation, and without paying due consideration to
the views of the suspect or his lawyers. There is general lack of information, a
telephone call is not regarded as a right and is discretionary, family members and
lawyers are usually given the runaround concerning the place of detention and access
to the             suspect and details as to when the suspect is to be brought to
court for a remand order or to be charged are
also often denied.
 
There is lack of independence, accountability and transparency on the part of the
police in its investigation of allegations of police brutality. There is accusation
of collusion with hospitals to ensure that no cooperation is given to family members
and lawyers who demanded evidence of abuse and impropriety. Compulsory inquests are
not done on all cases of death in police custody or police shooting. If so done the
inquests are often postponed due to the unavailability of medical records or
hospital authorities to verify these reports as evidence. The demand for a second
and independent post-mortem procedure on the deceased as requested by the family
members quite often fell on deaf ears or is refused by the police thus the need for
a court order.
 
The doctors who testified often appeared to be defensive and not interested in
testifying candidly and truthfully. Counsel for the family members of the deceased
also had a difficult time during cross examination, as the presiding magistrates
were over-zealous in defending the testifying witnesses. Where they are implicated
the charges brought against the police personnel never commensurate with the
severity of the crime committed or charges are made only against the lowest ranking
personnel involved. They often proceed knowing they will get away with it or they
will be bailed out.
 
In short the system stinks!
 
The tears and sorrows of grieving mothers and families have become a heart wrenching
sight in our daily lives. The cries and curses of mothers who gave birth to these
now mutilated bodies will not go unanswered. The perpetrators may escape punishment
now but rest assured their damning day is just around the corner.
 
The brutalities of the police seem to be carrying on and increasing by the day.
Since many of these deaths involved Indians are they now pushing the Indians to
react in a vengeful manner, out of desperation, hopelessness and anger? Are they
pushing us to the brim? It has been noted that after the Hindraf rally of 25th
November 2008 the cruel treatment against suspects have intensified. Where we dealt
with racism, injustice, discrimination and marginalisation in a peaceful and patient
manner are the police by murdering our fellow Indians now instigating us to be more
aggressive. If this is what they so desire let it be that we shall meet in the
streets again. Police violence and brutality must end!

 
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