Suaram blasts rearrest of teens in Balamurugan case

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PETALING JAYA: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has slammed the rearrest of two teenagers in connection with the S Balamurugan case, calling the continued detention an attempt to silence potential witnesses to Balamurugan’s death.

In a statement today, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the chain remand also painted the police as an institution that “permits violence in detention and protects those who murder detainees”.

The youths, Kanapathy Perathapan and Ang Kian Kok, both 16, were arrested together with Balamurugan on Feb 6. On Feb 8, Balamurugan was found dead at the North Klang district police headquarters.

According to his lawyers, at his remand hearing on Feb 7, Balamurugan was weak and unable to walk, had bruises on his face, was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and vomited blood. His lawyer also said Balamurugan had been assaulted by the police.

Balamurugan’s brother, Balraj, said two other suspects who were held with Balamurugan told the family’s lawyer that they had been beaten by the police.

Today, Doraisamy hit out at the practice of rearrest and chain remand, calling it a “blatant abuse of power by the police” and an infringement of fundamental human rights under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He said the detainees had repeatedly told their families and the presiding magistrate that they were beaten and tortured in detention.

He said the courts should take into account the welfare of minors and the element of human rights violations while under police custody when granting remand orders.

“In the interest of the welfare of the two detained minors, no further remand orders should be granted by the magistrates’ court.”

Doraisamy added, “There is no legitimate reason nor any reasonable justification for the continued detention of Kanapathy and Ang except to punish them and silence them for potentially witnessing the brutality inflicted on Balamurugan.”

He said the treatment of Kanapathy and Ang marked the government’s failure and betrayal of its commitment and obligations to protect the rights of children, as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Doraisamy called for the immediate release of the teenagers and the suspension of the officers involved in their alleged abuse.

He also urged the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) to investigate any police misconduct.