Balamurugan probably punched and kicked, say 2 pathologists

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PUTRAJAYA: Two pathologists said today detainee S Balamurugan’s death in the police lockup on Feb 8 was due to blunt force trauma, with one saying the injuries were not accidental or self-inflicted.

One of them told a public hearing into Balamurugan’s death that the blunt force trauma could include hard punches and kicks all over the body, while the other described them as “beatings”.

Pathologist Dr Kartini Md Arif noted that Balamurugan had heart problems and that the multiple blunt force injuries could have triggered a heart attack.

Kartini was involved in the first post-mortem from noon till 4pm on Feb 8 at Klang Hospital.

Forensic medical consultant Dr Siew Sheue Feng, who conducted a second post-mortem, said the beatings on Balamurugan’s body were “bad, but not enough to break bones”.

Today is the third day of the public hearing. The hearing is conducted by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) to determine the cause of Balamurugan’s death.

So far, Balamurugan’s family and the police have testified on the events of Feb 6 when Balamurugan was arrested at Jalan Batu Belah, in Klang, and later taken to the Bandar Baru Klang police station.

Kartini had noted bruises on the left eye, right chest and back.

She said there were also bruises on the left thigh (15×5cm), right leg (30×10cm), right knee (6×5cm), right wrist (4×5cm), left wrist (2×1cm), left upper back (7×7cm) and a left leg bruise that extended to the left foot (30×5cm).

She said such bruises were usually caused by blunt force trauma that caused soft tissues to rupture.

“All the injuries happened during the same time frame, not more than 72 hours before I did the post-mortem.

“They could be caused by punches or kicks. All possible,” she said while showing post-mortem pictures of Balamurugan, who had died at the Klang Utara police district headquarters on Feb 8 at 12.15am.

Kartini said there were injuries on the knees and ears as well, which could be due to a fall.

“But other injuries were due to blunt force. It needs a direct external force to have this sort of injury.”

However, she said, the injury was not severe enough to kill a normal person.

EAIC chairman Yaacob Md Sam, who is chairing the public hearing, asked if the heart condition could have speeded up the death of Balamurugan.

“The heart was not well as the deceased had had a previous heart procedure. His heart was not in good condition,” Kartini replied.

She said his eyes had yellowish discolouration which indicated Balamurugan was down with jaundice due to a liver problem.

She said the liver had shrunk and weighed 990gm compared with a normal person’s liver which weighs more than 1kg.

“He should have been on a regular medical follow-up and treatment”, she said.

However, she could not state how long Balamurugan could have been suffering from a liver problem.

She also noted there were no broken bones or kidney problems.

Siew, who conducted the second post-mortem on Feb 18 at the request of Balamurugan’s family, said the injuries were not self-inflicted or accidental.

“(It is) by the other person. (The injury) may not have been enough to cause death in a normal healthy person.

“But the deceased had a heart problem. Chronic heart disease and liver problem, which could be part and parcel of the death.”

He clarified that the bruises could only take place when the heart was still beating.

Siew also found an additional 20 injuries on the right upper eyelid, right ear, back of the left wrist, knuckles of the left hand, lower left leg, left knee and lower right leg.

He said the biggest injury was on the left shin which could have been caused by forceful kicks.

The hearing ends tomorrow. A second set of hearings will be held in June.