KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — N. Dhamendran’s family lodged a disciplinary complaint today against Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief SAC Datuk Ku Chin Wah for allegedly covering up the detainee’s death.
Ku was reported by national news agency Bernama on May 22 as saying that Dhamendran had died the night before after complaining of breathing difficulties and chest pains.
A subsequent government post-mortem, however, revealed that the 32-year-old former lorry driver was beaten to death while in police custody last month, leading to murder charges against three police officers, with another accused still at large.
“We want the police to investigate him why he lied and attempted to cover up the murder case,” Dhamendran’s family lawyer G. Sivamalar told reporters at the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters here today.
She added that Ku should not have talked about Dhamendran’s cause of death before the autopsy was completed.
The lawyer also said that a complaint would not be lodged with the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), which investigates abuse of power in the police force and other enforcement agencies, as the commission was “toothless and powerless”.
“We don’t recognise the EAIC,” said Sivamalar.
Dhamendran’s widow M. Marry, who was also at the press conference, called on the police to publish posters of the fourth murder accused who has yet to be arrested.
“Why have they not caught him yet?” she asked.
Dhamendran was reportedly arrested on May 11 in connection with a shooting incident in Bandar Tun Razak and died 10 days later on May 21 while under remand at the city police contingent headquarters here.
The EAIC has also launched investigations into the death of Dhamendran and another recent death in custody case, making it the commission’s first probe on custodial deaths since its inception in 2011.
Former Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee and former Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Jamil Johari were named last Tuesday as consultants to the EAIC’s task force on the two deaths in custody.
According to the EAIC, the task force, which was set up on May 28, will conduct a holistic review of the standard operating procedures (SOP) that led to the deaths of Dhamendran and R. Jamesh Ramesh.
Jamesh Ramesh died on May 26 while detained at the Penang police contingent headquarters. Penang CID deputy chief ACP Nasir Mohd Salleh reportedly said recently that a post-mortem showed the 40-year-old had died from liver failure.
The recent spate of deaths in police custody — nine over the past five months so far — has revived calls for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), but minister for integrity and corruption Datuk Paul Low said recently that Putrajaya prefers to revamp the EAIC instead.
The Malaysian Bar, civil society groups and several politicians from both sides of the divide have been calling for the IPCMC’s implementation since 2006, but to no avail.
According to human rights group Suaram, there were over 220 cases of alleged deaths in custody in Malaysia from 2000 to May, with its records showing that nine of those cases occurred in 2012, while nine cases have taken place this year to date.
In the latest death in custody, Nobuhiro Matsushita, 33, was found dead last Saturday at the USJ8 police station lock-up in Subang Jaya.
Police said the Japanese man, who was arrested for whipping out a knife at an auxiliary policeman after trespassing into a university on June 2, was found hanged in his cell, presumably at his own hands.
BY BOO SU-LYN The Malaysian Insider