PETALING JAYA: An inquest into the death of Shashikumar Selvam in Kluang Prison two years ago heard the testimony of a prison officer who said the deceased had told him just two days before his alleged suicide that he had feared for his life.
Inspector Junizen Jaffri was the fifth witness in the inquest, which was in its fourth day yesterday.
Junizen, who is an officer with the intelligence and investigations unit of Kluang Prison, testified he took a statement from Shashikumar who was in an isolation unit on May 20, 2015, for almost an hour.
Shashikumar was found dead in the isolation unit two days later, allegedly having used his trousers to hang himself. His cell was supposedly guarded round the clock according to prison requirements.
A transcript of the interview between Junizen and Shashikumar as part of the investigation was also presented in court as evidence.
When questioned by lawyers P Waythamoorthy and Karthik Shanmugam, Junizen said he was instructed to investigate the inmate by his superior, the deputy director of Kluang prison Huzami Hanafi. Waytha and Karthik are representing Shashikumar’s family in the inquest.
It was previously reported that Shashikumar had been found to possess 4.12 grammes of heroin, with the drugs hidden in his rectum at about 9.30am on May 20.
“Shashikumar admitted he obtained the heroin from another inmate named Singh. He also said there were many other inmates involved in drugs, possibly going into hundreds,” Junizen testified on what Shashikumar had told him.
Junizen added that he did not arrest or isolate the inmate referred to as Singh following the allegation by Shashikumar, but just placed him under observation.
“Shashikumar asked for his safety to be guaranteed by prison authorities in exchange for his full confession on the issue of drugs in the prison,” Junizen said.
Referring to points 11 and 12 from the interview transcript, Junizen confirmed the deceased stated there were prison officers involved in the drug ring in prison, however he had not asked for the identity of the officers involved.
In the two points concerned, Sashikumar had answered that he was not involved in the distribution of drugs in the prison.
In point 12, Shashikumar had told Junizen: “What I know is that Singh is a trusted party by Raja to handle all the buying and selling (of drugs) in the prison, and only the both of them know who are the prison staff involved.”
Meanwhile, Junizen testified there was a possibility Shashikumar faced a threat to his life from prison officers involved in the drug racket within the prison.
On May 27, 2015, Hindraf, of which Waytha is chairman, came to the aid of Shashikumar’s grandmother Sushilarani, who said her 20-year-old grandson would not have commited suicide as alleged by Kluang Prison officials.
The current inquest is the result of Hindraf urging authorities to investigate the untimely death of Shashikumar and the circumstances which also implicated prison officers and other inmates in the matter of drugs being sold inside Kluang prison.
Shashikumar had been serving a 10-year jail sentence for having stolen rice and two cans of sardines. Waytha had previously said it was plain and clear that the judge in the case was “insensitive” to the plight of the poor and underclass society.