It’s murder, so call it that, lawyers urge police


PETALING JAYA: Police should classify the custodial death of S Balamurugan as murder, and immediately suspend the officers that are involved in the case.

This, said the lawyers representing Balamurugan’s family, is because there were “clear facts” suggesting that he was assaulted.

Lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, in a joint statement today, listed the findings of Balamurugan’s family and the doctor who performed his autopsy, which said that bruises were visible on the victim’s body.

“Taking into account all the above factors, it is our view that police should classify the case as a murder investigation,” said the two lawyers.

“In view of the clear facts, there is no need for any inquest to be held into Balamurugan’s death. Instead, there should be a swift criminal investigation and consequent prosecutions.

“Whilst section 334 of the CPC (Criminal Procedure Code) states that a magistrate must hold an inquiry in cases of death in custody, section 333(3) provides that an inquest becomes unnecessary once criminal proceedings are instituted.”

They also called for all police personnel believed to be involved in the case to be immediately suspended, pending investigations.

Balamurugan, 44, died on Feb 8 while in police custody and according to news reports, he was found with his face badly swollen and bleeding.

The Malaysian Human Rights Commission yesterday said there are concerns that the police had breached the standard operating procedure by, among other things, keeping Balamurugan in the lock-up instead of providing him medical treatment when he was visibly ill.

The commission is now investigating the case, along with the police. The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is doing the same, but is conducting the investigation separately.

The probe, said EAIC chairman Yaacob Md Sam, would look into the possibility of misconduct on the part of the North Klang police officers that were handling Balamurugan.

Surendran and Latheefa, in response to this, questioned the police’s decision to keep Balamurugan in their custody despite the magistrate’s order for him to be released.

“It is an indisputable fact that Balamurugan was neither released nor hospitalised, but died in police custody that night,” they added.