Cops ignored detainees’ screams out of respect for superiors

jail-posPUTRAJAYA: Two police officers today said they ignored the screams of detainees who were a short walk away at a police lock-up earlier this year as they were afraid of disrespecting their superiors.

They told a public hearing that they decided not to check on the cries of three men, who have been identified as S Balamurugan, Taminarasan and juvenile with the surname Ang, at the Bandar Baru Klang police station.

“I heard screaming and shouts of ‘tolong, tolong’ (help, help). I did not check and I did not know what was happening,” said Lance Corporal Anwar Nyat.

He said this on the second day of a hearing conducted by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) here on the probe into the death of Balamurugan who died at the Klang Utara district police headquarters at 12.15am on Feb 8.

The hearing was also attended by Bar Council members, home ministry officials, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the police.

Balamurugan, 44, who was arrested on Feb 6 about 6.30pm, was taken to the Bandar Baru Klang station and later transferred to the district police headquarters the same day.

EAIC chairman Yaacob Md Sam asked whether Anwar had the desire or curiosity to check on the matter.

Anwar replied that he had no intention to do so as it would have been disrespectful to his superiors from the Serious Crime Unit (D9 unit) from the district headquarters.

Both he and Lance Corporal Sabri Abu Bakar were in the next room filing a report on the arrests at 9.13pm, he said.

Anwar said after writing the report, he went out of the room and had to pass the space where he saw Balamurugan and Taminarasan. Ang had been taken to Banting earlier by Inspector Vickneswaran.

He said they were in good condition and were alone as the D9 officers might have left the station by then.

“Balamurugan was like falling asleep. Taminarasan was sitting next to him. I did not see any injury marks.

“They were handcuffed together. Balamurugan could walk,” he said.

Anwar said he and Sabri took the two detainees to the Klang Utara district police headquarters about 11pm on Feb 6, with no body checks conducted on either men to determine their condition.

He added that he had also not demanded for the checks to be done.

In his testimony, Sabri said he heard detainees screaming in pain while he was assisting Anwar in writing the report.

He recalled the cries coming from the next room as “Aduh, Aduh”, and added that he did not know who was screaming.

When Yaacob asked if he went to check on the detainees, Sabri said “no”.

“I did not want to get involved. They are my seniors,” he said, referring to four plainclothes D9 unit officers who had arrived there at 8pm.

On Feb 11 this year, four days after Balamurugan’s death, North Klang police chief ACP Mohd Yusoff Mamat said more than 10 policemen at the district headquarters were under investigation over the death.

Yusoff, however, said none of them had been suspended as investigations were ongoing.

A second post-mortem on Balamurugan in February confirmed that he suffered “multiple beatings” while in custody, lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya had said.

It showed Balamurugan had suffered injuries to the chest, head, legs and back, triggering a heart failure.

Based on the findings, the lawyers called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of all police personnel involved in the alleged assault.

The first post-mortem, carried out at the Klang Hospital, had indicated that Balamurugan died of “heart problems”. His family had requested a second post-mortem, which was granted by the Shah Alam High Court.