Another Man Dies While In Police Custody In Less Than 3 Weeks Time

That's two deaths in 19 days, three in just over a month.

Cover image via New Vision

Yet another detainee died while in police custody today

Thanaseelan Muniandy, a 43-year-old man who was under a court remand for burglary from 22 to 25 February was found unconscious in his cell at about 1.50am last night by a sentry at the Bukit Sentosa station, who alerted the officer at the information counter.

According to reports, Muniandy died just hours after the police had brought him to the Kuala Kubu Bharu hospital to treat his stomach pain.

According to Hulu Selangor Police Chief Supt R. Supramaniam, an ambulance was called in but he was pronounced dead at the scene

"He has a history of gastritis and we brought him to the hospital for treatment when he complained of stomach pains. The doctors gave him medicines and we brought him back," Supt Supramaniam was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online, adding that the body of the deceased has been sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital for post-mortem.

Image via Astro AWANI

Muniandy's post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Monday, 27 February. Meanwhile, the case has been classified as sudden death.

Prior to Muniandy, there was another custodial death at a police station in Klang.

That was on 8 February, when 44-year-old S. Balamurugan was found dead at the North Klang police station after he was arrested with two other men.

According to a report in The Star Online, he was first taken to a magistrate's court to be remanded, which was denied after the magistrate saw him vomit blood.

While the magistrate's court ordered the police to either take Balamurugan to a hospital or release him, the police defied the order and took him in custody where he died.

While the first autopsy carried out at the Klang Hospital had reportedly stated that Balamurugan had died of "heart problems", a second autopsy by order from the Shah Alam High Court stated that he had suffered multiple beatings in police custody

While more than 10 policemen at the North Klang district police HQs are under investigation over Balamurugan's custodial death, none of them have been suspended.

Relatives of Balamurugan: a grieving Natthanan and Yanika console each other.

Image via The Malay Mail Online

Before these two cases, back in January this year another man, Soh Kai Chiok, aged 49, died while in police custody in Bera. The police had arrested him for allegedly stealing bananas at a plantation.

Image used for illustration purposes only.

Image via AFP via The Malay Mail Online

And there have been others, many, many others...

In 2014, a 26-year-old lorry driver died in the Bukit Mertajam Hospital while under police custody. His name was Agin Raj and he was detained at the Bandar Perda Police lock-up under suspicion of iron theft.

His family had noticed bruises on his lips, wrists and legs when they visited him at the hospital. In fact, Agin was cuffed to the bed and was writhing in pain.

In 2013, a man named N. Dharmendran, aged 32, became a victim of the police beating after he died in custody. According to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) report, four policemen in charge of questioning Dharmendran had beaten him up, causing massive bleeding from blunt force trauma leading to his death.

Police later fabricated evidence to cover up their violent interrogation. While the policemen were charged, they were acquitted at the High Court last year.

However, the victim’s widow, Marry Mariay Susay, won a separate civil lawsuit to claim damages from the policemen for Dharmendran’s death.

Image via Aliran

In fact, according to a SUHAKAM report, in the past 17 years, 242 people walked into police lockups alive but left in body bags. Balamurugan was 243, and Muniandy just became 244.

And the authorities have done little to improve its procedures to prevent detainees from dying while in custody, alleges Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) Director Eric Paulsen.

He claimed the lack of prosecution or conviction in past custodial death cases proved that the authorities are not serious in wanting to tackle the problem.

"At the root cause of deaths in custody is the lack of seriousness of PDRM and the government in tackling custodial deaths. How many deaths in custody over the last decade and how many policemen are actually prosecuted, sacked or disciplined?," Paulsen was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online (MMO).

He also alleged the AGC had in many instances acted against the interest of justice.

"Questions must also be asked about the AGC — why are they not taking custodial deaths seriously? For example, in Karuna Nithi, instead of acting on the positive inquest verdict, the AGC is seeking to overturn the verdict. Surely the AGC is not acting in the public interest by seeking to appeal against the Coroner's verdict?" he told The MMO.

And just a few days back...

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