Why no arrests yet in Balamurugan case, ask lawyers

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PETALING JAYA: Five weeks after the death in custody of S Balamurugan, his family’s lawyers are questioning the lack of arrests or charges in connection with the case.

In a joint statement issued today, N Surendran and Latheefa Koya asked why this was so despite autopsy photos showing the extent of Balamurugan’s injuries.

According to the lawyers, results of a second post-mortem carried out by Hospital Kuala Lumpur showed Balamurugan had suffered multiple injuries to the chest, head, legs and back, proving that he had been severely assaulted while in police custody.

Last month, the police officers believed to have been involved in his death were called in for investigation. However, Selangor chief police officer Abdul Samah Mat said the officers could not be suspended.

“We are still investigating (them). We can’t punish a person before we complete the investigation to determine if there was any wrongdoing,” Abdul Samah had said.

Balamurugan, 44, died on Feb 8 while at the North Klang police station. He was detained on Feb 6 and taken to court to obtain a remand the next day.

The Magistrates’ Court rejected the remand request and ordered Balamurugan to be freed, but this was apparently not done.

The lawyers today also hit out at Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s continued silence on the case, calling it unacceptable.

Surendran and Latheefa rejected Zahid’s written response in Parliament yesterday on Balamurugan’s death. The home minister had said that he would not comment on it, as doing so would disrupt police and Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission investigations.

“Zahid’s refusal to answer is unjustifiable and unacceptable,” the lawyers said.

“There are major questions and doubts about the police investigation into the death that Zahid should have addressed as the minister in charge of the police department.

“He could have done so without going into operational details of the investigation. He cannot avoid answering by giving the excuse that the investigation is ongoing.”

The lawyers urged Zahid to explain the failure to charge or arrest anyone in the five weeks since Balamurugan’s death.

“Surely Zahid has an obligation to provide explanations to the family and the public,” they said.