KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The family of C. Sugumaran has rejected suggestions to hold an inquest into last week’s death of the security guard and will press for a murder investigation instead, says lawyer N. Surendran.

The PKR vice-president said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider that this was because the Sugumaran’s next of kin believe the 39-year-old had been murdered at the hands of the police and had not died from a heart attack.

“IPK Sgor (Selangor police contingent headquarters) told us they are looking at holding inquest. Family rejects calls for inquest – they want investigation under s 302 Penal Code & prosecution for murder – the evidence is clear, there r eyewitnesses. Inquest necessary only where there are doubts as to cause of death,” Surendran said in the text message last night.

He added that the police have still yet to agree to a second post-mortem on Sugumaran’s body despite protests from the family.

“Inexcusable conduct by PDRM. We’ll proceed wit demo on 29/1,” he said, referring to the planned sit-in protest outside Bukit Aman federal police headquarters scheduled for 10.30am tomorrow.

The Malaysian Insider reported on Saturday plans by the family and supporters of Sugumaran to stage the protest to demand a second autopsy and a murder probe into his death.

Surendran had told The Malaysian Insider that the man’s next of kin are outraged at the allegedly nonchalant attitude of the police towards the case, and have vowed to stop at nothing to demand “at least some measure of justice” for their loved one.

“It is terrible for the family… they want to complete the final rites for the man but they are not yet able to do that.

“The police seem bent on prolonging this delay… but imagine what it feels like for the family, the agony,” he said when contacted.

The PKR vice-president also said he had written to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar on Thursday, seeking a second post-mortem on Sugumaran’s body.

On Wednesday, eyewitnesses had said that Sugumaran was chased down last week by four policemen who subsequently handcuffed and beat him to death together with a mob of more than 20 people in Hulu Langat.

They said that after the policemen caught and handcuffed him, more than 20 other men from a nearby restaurant joined the policemen and proceeded to assault him.

“The police stepped on Sugumaran’s neck,” R. Moohanarajan said when met at the Serdang Hospital. “Twenty to 30 people wearing plain clothes beat him up. He was lying facedown with his hands handcuffed behind,” added Moohanarajan, who was Sugumaran’s neighbour.

But on Thursday, Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Rashid Abdul Wahab denied that police assaulted the security guard to death, citing the hospital’s first post-mortem on Sugumaran which showed that the man had died of a heart attack.

In the police’s version of the incident, the Batu 14 Hulu Langat police station had received a call at about 6.30pm on Wednesday from a man saying that Sugumaran had run amok and was destroying public property.

Abdul Rashid said three policemen in a patrol car and a motorcycle tailed Sugumaran, who was on foot, for about two kilometres from Dusun Sri Nanding to Taman Lagenda Suria in Hulu Langat as the latter waved an iron rod, destroying flower vases near houses and electrical wires, until he fell down in the middle of the road.

Latheefa (left) and Surendran want the police to classify the case as murder after rejecting the Serdang Hospital’s claim that Sugumaran had died of a heart attack.

“The police, assisted by members of the public, held and handcuffed the man as he was still acting aggressively and trying to struggle during arrest,” said Abdul Rashid, stressing that the crowd of 10 did not assault Sugumaran.

He added that a policeman then went to get a Land Rover to take Sugumaran, described as a big-sized man, to the police station.

“But upon return, the Indian man was unconscious. The police then contacted the hospital and a medical officer came and pronounced him dead,” said Abdul Rashid.

He stressed that the post-mortem, done by pathologist Dr Mohd Azaini Ibrahim from Serdang Hospital, revealed that Sugumaran had died of a heart attack.

“No other injuries could have caused his death,” said Abdul Rashid.

But citing eyewitness accounts, lawyers for Sugumaran’s family have refused to accept the police version of the story and have demanded a second post-mortem, apart from insisting that the case be classified as murder under section 302 of the Penal Code.

On Thursday, Surendran and another PKR lawyer, Latheefa Koya, urged the police to classify the case as murder after rejecting the Serdang Hospital’s claim that Sugumaran had died of a heart attack.

They also called for all policemen allegedly involved in beating the man on Wednesday to be arrested and suspended pending investigations and a second post-mortem.

Furthermore, the two lawyers pointed out that this was not the first time Serdang Hospital had allegedly conspired with the police to rule out murder.

“It should be noted that the Serdang Hospital has a history of falsifying post-mortem findings in favour of the police authorities.

“In the A. Kugan case, Serdang Hospital falsely claimed that Kugan died of water in the lungs when in fact he had been beaten to death in police custody.

“The pathologist, Prof Dr Abdul Karim Tajuddin, was subsequently found guilty by the Malaysian Medical Council of professional misconduct for falsifying Kugan’s post-mortem findings,” they said.

According to Surendran and Latheefa, the hospital had again breached medical ethics by refusing Sugumaran’s family to see the body until they were persuaded to do so by lawyers and activists, four hours later.

By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor, The Malaysian Insider

January 28, 2013