The counsel for late Kugan’s family questioned the impartiality of the MMC inquiry.

KUALA LUMPUR: The lawyers representing the family of A Kugan who died in police custody were taken aback when an expert witness turned up to testify on behalf of a pathologist.

They cast doubts on the independence of the expert, Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood, who gave his testimony on behalf of the Serdang Hospital pathologist Dr Abdual Karim Tajuddin.

Mohd Shah was a member of the independent committee set up by the health ministry to probe into Kugan’s death.

“We were surprised when Mohd Shah testified for Abdul Karim,” said Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) advisor N Surendran when met here after the third hearing in the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) inquiry into the conduct of Dr Abdul Karim resumed here today. The inquiry will sit for three days.

The first hearing started in August last year and the second in March this year.

Also present were fellow LFL coordinator Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran and lawyer T Naraendran.

On Jan 14, 2009, Kugan, 23, from Puchong, was detained at Taipan police station, Subang Jaya, to facilitate an investigation over a luxury car-theft syndicate.

Six days later, he was found dead in detention, with his body riddled with severe lacerations.

Abdul Karim conducted the first autopsy and concluded that Kugan had died of fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Not allowed to cross-examine

At the behest of his family members, a second autopsy was performed by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre pathologist Dr Prashant N Samberkar who found that Kugan had been burnt, beaten and starved during detention.

However, an independent committee set up by the health ministry, chaired by Mohd Shah, concluded that Kugan died of acute inflammation of the heart muscle, compounded by blunt force trauma.

The committee also said the second autopsy conducted by Dr Prashant had misidentified and misinterpreted some of the results of the first post-mortem.

The family, however, lodged a formal complaint against Abdul Karim in March 2009 for alleged professional misconduct.

Manogaran said Mohd Shah’s presence today to testify raised concerns on whether the inquiry would be impartial in its view.

“He (Mohd Shah) was part of the committee that supported Abdul Karim’s report,” he said.

He was also upset that they were not allowed to cross-examine Abdul Karim during the hearing.

“We are not even allowed to make submissions. The inquiry said it is part of MMC’s procedure,” said Manogaran.

Abdul Karim’s legal team will give its final submission on July 11.


By G Vinod | June 13, 2011