GEORGE TOWN: The mother of a man who incurred severe physical injuries while in jail at the Sungai Jawi Prison in Penang is worried about his safety, after communication from her son indicating that he was indeed assaulted.
Pachaee Pakiry, 58, told a press conference today that Chandran Muniandy, 42, had replied in the affirmative when she questioned him at the Seberang Jaya Hospital on whether he was beaten.
Pachaee said Chandran, who remains unable to speak after regaining consciousness on Tuesday, nodded when she asked if he had been beaten.
“I asked him what happened to his toenails. Did anyone pull them off? He nodded his head,” she said in a press conference arranged by Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy at his office here.
Also present was Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, who is a lawyer.
She also questioned the police’s reported comment that Chandran had been undergoing psychiatric evaluation in solitary confinement and therefore could not have been beaten up by other prisoners or warders.
“If my son was having a psychiatric condition, why was he not sent for psychiatric treatment? Why keep him there in jail?”
Chandran, an odd-job labourer, regained consciousness at the hospital’s intensive care unit on Tuesday. He was warded there in critical condition on Feb 8.
On Feb 13, The Star Online quoted South Seberang Prai OCPD Supt Shafee Abdul Samad as saying that Chandran had sustained his injuries due to a fall and that his toenails were removed as he had skin disease.
Penang Prison director Senior Asst Comm Kamarudzaman Mamat meanwhile was reported as saying that Chandran was in solitary confinement due to mental instability.
Ramasamy, who chairs the Penang Task Force on Custodial Deaths, said Chandran has not been able to converse since then and is constantly watched over by prison officials.
“I am happy for him. I thought he would not make it alive when he was unconscious. But when I visited him (on Feb 14), he was eating slowly by himself but could not talk,” Ramasamy said. He added that prison officials were present during his visit.
He said he would write an official letter to Penang Chief Police Officer Comm Chuah Ghee Lye on the matter and seek a medical report on Chandran’s injuries and condition from the hospital.
He also criticised the police for initially refuting allegations of assault.
“You can’t just deny it without any thorough investigation,” he said.
On the possibility of legal action, he said he would discuss it with Kulasegaran and the family concerning the measures they should adopt.
Kulasegaran said the case underscored the importance of having an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
Such a commission had been recommended by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, chaired by former chief justice of Malaysia Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.
“We instead have the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission. The EAIC should at least ensure zero deaths and assaults in prison. But that has not happened.”
Chandran’s case coincides with the death of S Balamurugan, 44, while in custody at the North Klang district police headquarters on Feb 8.
Lawyers representing Balamurugan’s family said there were “clear facts” suggesting that he was assaulted, and listed findings from his family and the doctor who performed his autopsy which said that bruises were visible on the victim’s body.