A High Court judge who held that the nation’s current Inspector-General of Police was responsible for the death of detainee A. Kugan, said there was also suppression of evidence during the trial.
Datuk V.T. Singham, who retired last month, said such an action amounted to undermining the judicial authority and ability of the court from performing its function.
“The evidence of Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, when considered together with the testimonies of three other witnesses, is tantamount to suppression of evidence,” he said in his 128-page judgment, which was made available today.
Singham said no person of any position or rank should take the court for granted and attempt to hide the truth to escape liability.
“Police officers and Khalid must be reminded that their conduct lies not in the cold print of the statute book but in their integrity and conscience,” he said.
Singham said if not for human rights lawyer N. Surendran, who pursued a second postmortem for Kugan, the truth would have been swept under the carpet
Kugan was held at the Taipan police station in 2009 for allegedly being involved in several cases of car theft. He was beaten and died from multiple injuries during his detention.
At that time, Khalid was the Selangor police chief. One policeman, Constable V. Navindran, was found guilty of causing hurt to Kugan and sentenced to three years’ jail. He is appealing his conviction.
Singham believed that the injuries Kugan suffered could not have been inflicted by one officer and that the senior officers cannot plead ignorance.
“This court also finds several glaring material contradictions between Khalid and other witnesses with respect to the investigation into the death of the deceased,” he said.
At the tail-end of the judgment Singham said there was a need to consider introducing the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, following a sharp rise in custodial deaths.
He said police officers must protect detainees, not abuse their powers.
“If the unlawful act is not checked, the belief that no harm can be caused on police officers will forever be reinforced,” he said.
Singham said this would result in people losing faith in the law as well as the enforcement agency.
“The recommendation by a Royal Commission should not be kept in cold storage but must be activated as soon as possible for the public to feel assured that an independent agency was looking into such matters,” he said.
Retired chief justice Tun Mohd Dzaiddin Abdullah chaired the commission but the police resisted critical proposals.
Kugan’s mother, N. Indra, filed a suit against Khalid, former constable Navindran, former Subang Jaya OCPD Assistant Commissioner Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar (deceased), the IGP and the government.
The mother alleged that the defendants failed to ensure the safety, health and welfare of Kugan while he was in custody.
Kugan, then 22, was arrested in Puchong on Jan 14, 2009, and held overnight at the Puchong Jaya police lock-up before police obtained a remand order.
He was taken to the Taipan USJ, Subang Jaya police station two days later for questioning and was found dead on Jan 20.
Earlier today, former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim urged Khalid to ignore the home minister and not to appeal the decision of the High Court on Kugan’s case.
In an open letter to Khalid, Mat Zain said that Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s attempt to appeal the decision can be classified as a “threat and puts pressure on the judiciary body”.
Ahmad Zahid was reported as saying that the government along with the IGP would be filing an appeal against the decision. – July 9, 2013.
BY V. ANBALAGAN
The Malaysian insider