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Family wants probe into lockup death

 | August 15, 2012

The family members of a man who was found hanged in a police lockup say his death was 'suspicious'.

GEORGE TOWN: Family members of a detainee found hanged in a police lockup here on Monday morning want a probe into his death.

The family members say Cheah Chin Lee, 36, sudden death is “suspicious”.

Cheah’s uncle, Cheah Ewe Yeoh, has lodged a report in Jalan Patani police station at 5pm yesterday, urging the police to immediately probe into his nephew’s “suspicious” death.

In the report, Ewe Yeoh insisted that Cheah was a person with “a stable job, without any financial, health or emotional problem”.

He said Cheah’s family cannot accept the post-mortem report that suggested Cheah’s death was caused by “asphyxia due to hanging”.

The post-mortem was conducted at Penang Hospital yesterday morning.

Cheah was found hanged by a policeman in Tanjung Tokong police station lock-up at 5.20am.

He was earlier detained near his house at midnight in Taman Seri Setia, Tanjung Bungah, allegedly to help police investigations into a motorcycle theft case.

He was taken to the Jalan Patani police station at 2am for urine test before being brought back to Tanjung Tokong at 5am.

Some 20 minutes later he was found hanged with detention clothes that he was issued to wear.

Detained once before

Human rights group Suaram, meanwhile, said it would write to the CPO requesting the police to carry out a thorough and independent probe into Cheah’s sudden demise.

Its state secretariat member Ng Eng Kiat said Suaram was not alleging any foul play or accusing anyone of Cheah’s death.

“But the deceased was held under police custody and found hanged in a police station. There should not be any cover-up in the probe.

Earlier, Ng and several Suaram activists accompanied Cheah’s family members to the police station.

According to Cheah’s brother-in-law, Looi Chooi Aik, 45, the police had assured the deceased’s family that they would conduct a probe into the case .

“The police have also told us that Cheah’s urine test was negative,” he said.

He said that Cheah had never been charged with criminal offence before although he was once detained 10 years ago together with several others for being involved in alleged rioting at a night spot.

“He was released after two days in the lockup. But he was never charged,” said Looi.

Police are expected to submit a sudden death report by this week with strong recommendations to the head of public prosecutor’s office to launch an immediate inquest report on Cheah’s death.

According to police statistics, 147 people have died in police custody between January 2000 and February 2010.

The deaths included 64 Malays while in police custody, with 30 deaths among Chinese detainees, 28 Indians, eight other races, and 14 foreigners.


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