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Kugan’s family wins suit, awarded RM851,700

 | June 26, 2013

High Court awards RM851,700 and finds top cop liable

VIDEO INSIDE

KUALA LUMPUR:  The Kuala Lumpur High Court has awarded RM851,700 in damages to the family of A Kugan, who died in police custody four years ago.

Judge VT Singham today said the court found that all defendants, including current Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar were liable.

He said Khalid, who was the Selangor police chief at the time of Kugan’s death, was in particular liable to a charge of malfeasance while in public office.

Kugan’s mother, N Indra, filed the suit in January 2012, accusing the police of negligence and breach of statutory duty and had sought RM100 million in damages.

Other than Khalid, she named former Subang Jaya district police chief ACP Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar, Constable V Navindran, the then IGP and the government as defendants.

In her statement of claim, Indra had alleged that the defendants had failed to ensure the safety and welfare of Kugan while he was in police custody.

The damages awarded included RM192,000 for loss of dependency, RM9,709 for funeral expenses, RM50,000 for assault and battery, RM100, 000 for false imprisonment, RM100,000 for malfeasance while in public office and exemplary damages of RM300,000.

Singham said that the IGP should have clarified his earlier statement on Kugan’s actual cause of death. The second post-mortem revealed that the deceased had died due to acute kidney failure as opposed to water in the lungs, which was first stated by Khalid.

Pathologists of the second post-mortem found 45 categories of external injuries on the body of the deceased and Singham also noted that the grievance of injuries which spoke volumes could not have been inflicted by Navindran alone.

“This court is unable to accept that the injuries found on the deceased body was caused only by the second defendant [Navindran].

The judge also contended that the accumulative evidence by the defendants is inconsistent and unreliable.

Singham also said that the recommendation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) must be activated as soon as possible to assure all concerned members of society that an independent agency is looking into the matter without any influence from police officers.

Family needs closure

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Padang Serai MP N Surendran who was a witness in the case was commended for pushing for the second post-mortem and Singham opined that if it was not for him, the matter would have been swept under the carpet.

“Police station should be a safe place and should not be converted into a crime scene,” said Singham.

He however stressed that an isolated incident should not be made to reflect negatively on the entire police force.

“The nature of this torturous act should not cast aspersion on the entire police force but only the officers who committed the act,” he said.

During a press conference held after the judgment was read, Surendran instead stressed that the case has caused aspersion on the police force.

“The current IGP has been found liable for covering up a heinous crime, this has caused aspersion against the entire police force.

“The finding shows that Kugan was murdered while in police custody by police officers.

“This judgment makes his [Khalid] position untenable. If he has any sense of shame, then he should resign,” said Surendran.

He added that the verdict is just a small consolation to Kugan’s family.

“This is because the murderers are still walking free. For closure, the culprits must be brought to justice,” he said.

Kugan was arrested and remanded on Jan 14, 2009 at the Puchong Jaya police lock-up before he was found dead on Jan 20, four days after being brought to the Taipan USJ Subang Jaya police station on Jan 16.

Navindran was sentenced to three years’ jail in June 2012 after the Sessions Court found him guilty of causing hurt to Kugan. He is out on bail, pending appeal.

The plaintiff’s lawyers were A Sivarasa, RL Bani Prakash and Latheefa Koya while the federal counsel for the defendants were Arshad Md Arshad, Nur Aqilah Ishak, and R Ramesh Sivakumar.

Anwar: Home Minister must respond

In a related development, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must respond immediately to the court ruling today.

“The home minister gave a clear explanation in parliament this morning (on deaths in custody). I thank him.

“While there is still room for appeals to be made, based on what has happened (in Kugan’s case), the home minister should respond immediately,” he said.


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