KUALA LUMPUR: A former detainee is suing the Prisons Department for negligence.
In his civil suit filed at the High Court registry today, V. Shashitheran, 35, claimed that prison authorities did not take action when he was assaulted by a group of detainees during his 14-day incarceration while awaiting trial for a charge under Section 39A (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
The former driver said he suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of the assault. He is also suing for breach of statutory duty for not being given access to medical treatment immediately after the assault.
Shashitheran named Chief Inspector Zahit Zulkifli, a senior officer, who leads the prison guards at ‘Blok Cekal’ and prison officers; Sergeant Johari Ismail, Cpl Mohktar Hamat, Cpl Narul Zaman Md Sidek, Wan Azman Abdul Rahim, and the director of the Sungai Buloh Prison, the commissioner-general of the Prisons Department, the Home Minister and the government as defendants in the suit.
In his statement of claim, Shashitheran said that he was charged under Section 39A (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and had claimed trial on Nov 23, 2015.
He said he was brought to the Sungai Buloh prison temporary lock-up pending the completion of the chemistry report.
The charge was later reduced and he was only slapped with a fine.
He said he was placed in quarantine for five days at ‘Blok Damai’ and later transferred to ‘Blok Cekal’ on Nov 28, 2015, whereby he was placed together with 100 other detainees.
At about 4pm on Dec 1, 2015, about five people attacked him inside the cell, after he had chided them for stealing food from another prisoner.
Following the assault, he was lying on the ground when another detainee stepped on the back of his neck.
He said he could hear the sound of a crack and screamed in pain before fainting.
Shashitheran claimed that the five prison guards on duty did not protect or help him. He said another detainee slapped him and accused him of pretending to be sick.
At about 7pm, his condition deteriorated and he had breathing difficulties, following which a few other detainees asked the authorities to check on him.
Shashitheran claimed he was brought to the clinic in a food trolley and was later warded in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
He was diagnosed as suffering from “bifacetal dislocation with spinal cord impingement.”
Following the injury, he has to wear a neck brace and needs to undergo physiotherapy treatment, once a month.
He is seeking for general, special damages of RM1,000, aggravated and exemplary damages and a declaration that placing him with 100 other prisoners in a crowded cell, is wrong in law, and that the prison officers had breached their duty, when they failed to ensure his safety.
Shashitheran was represented by lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya.
By The Sun Daily