About 80 people staged a noisy protest in front of Bukit Aman, demanding the detainee’s release.

A noisy protest in front of the national police headquarters staged by around 80 people forced the disclosure that a key witness to a police custody death had been detained for alleged drug offences.

bukit aman protest against selvachandran arrest 301010 02A police spokesperson said that the narcotics department took the action taken against K Selvachandran under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures).

However, it took him close to an hour and a half of noisy protest at Bukit Aman to come up with the answer.

They had gathered this morning to demonstrate against Selva’s sudden arrest on Monday night, just a few hours after the coroner’s court gave an open verdict on the custodial death of R Gunasegaran.

bukit aman protest against selvachandran arrest 301010 01The participants mobilised by several human rights and civil society NGOs such as Lawyers for Liberty and Suaram they also handed over a memorandum to the police.

However, there was a brief face-off when the police officer who had come out to receive the document earlier had no answers for the protestors, which included Selva’s wife Saraswathy, on where he was being detained.

bukit aman protest against selvachandran arrest 301010 wifeThe protestors also refused to hand over the memorandum to him, until answers were forthcoming.

A little more than an hour later the police officer returned to deliver the news of Selva’s whereabouts.

No trial for key witness, yet

Under the special preventive measures of the Dangerous Drugs Act, a suspect can be detained without trial for up to 60 days.

Upon its expiry, the home minister is empowered to endorse a two-year extension which can be renewed indefinitely and cannot be challenged in court.

bukit aman protest against selvachandran arrest 301010 hand in memo to police”The minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said that he did not want to interfere but it will be his signature on the detention orders once the 60 days are up. He is responsible for Selva,” said Latheefa Koya, (right in headscarf in photo) a representatives of Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).

The memorandum signed by LFL and Suaram, also demanded Selva’s immediate release as well as a public apology from the police.

bukit aman protest against selvachandran arrest 301010 03″The inspector-general of police also must take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Selva,” said the memorandum.

A hat was also passed around, collecting RM1,140 from the protestors as financial aid to Saraswathy.

Representatives from Pakatan Rakyat included four MPs – Khalid Samad (Shah Alam), Dzulkifly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor), R Sivarasa (Subang) and Charles Santiago (Klang).

In the Monday night incident, Selva – who had testified at the inquest into Gunasegaran’s death on July 16, 2009 in a police lock-up in the Sentul police station – was suddenly whisked away by policemen, but not before assaulting him in front of his wife and children.