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Varsity can be held liable for death of cadet, say lawyers

 | June 6, 2017

They say the university has a duty to ensure its students' safety and well-being.


PETALING JAYA: The university where cadet student Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain studied prior to his death can be sued by his family, according to lawyers.

They said the Malaysian National Defence University (UPNM) had a duty under the law to ensure its students’ safety and well-being.

Lawyer N Surendran said if the alleged torture took place on campus, UPNM had to take the blame for the student’s death.

“They have a responsibility under the law. Furthermore, this is a military college that is supposed to emphasise discipline and the conduct of the students.”

It was reported last Sunday that Zulfarhan’s family was contemplating legal action against the university.

Zulfarhan, 21, died at Serdang Hospital last Thursday after he was warded with burns and other injuries on his body.

He was said to have been tortured over the theft of a laptop.

Police detained 36 students to facilitate the murder probe.

Surendran also said the government could be vicariously held liable for Zulfarhan’s death.

“The government, being the owner of the military university, is held responsible over the actions of its employees and failure to provide a safe environment for the student to study.”

Lawyer Visvanathan Murugiah said family members could file a negligence suit, seeking general damages over Zulfarhan’s death and alleged abuse.

“To claim for bereavement and loss of dependency may be harder.

“Under the Civil Law Act, estate holders can only claim damages for bereavement if the deceased is a minor or spouse.

“It would also be difficult to claim for loss of dependency since the deceased was not working, unless family members can prove otherwise.”


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