PUTRAJAYA: Police officers from the Serious Crime Unit today testified they had not witnessed any violence towards detainee S Balamurugan at the Bandar Baru Klang police station.
Inspector Vickneswaran Poobalan said Balamurugan could still talk when he left the station between 8.10pm and 8.15pm on Feb 6.
“He told me, ‘Sir, let’s settle this here.’ I told him, you are already old, better sit quietly,” he said, adding that Balamurugan had looked well the entire time he was at the station, up until the time he had left.
Vickneswaran said this during a hearing conducted by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) to determine if any police misconduct had led to Balamurugan’s death in the early hours of Feb 8.
Balamurugan and two others, Tamilasan Karapiah and a juvenile named Ang, were detained at Jalan Batu Belah, Klang, over car theft by two patrol unit officers on Feb 6.
During the arrest, the officers had called for a patrol van which arrived with four other officers.
They then took the three suspects to the Bandar Baru Klang police station.
Balamurugan died at the Klang Utara district police headquarters.
Pathologists confirmed that he died due to blunt force trauma which had triggered a heart attack.
Vickneswaran said he was the first to arrive at the station to identify Tamilasan, who was the main suspect. He had arrived at 7.40pm.
He said when he saw the suspects, they were with the two patrol officers and three to four other men in T-shirts.
Several minutes later, his four officers, Sergeant Rizal Abdullah, Corporal Mohd Freddy Sany Abdullah, Corporal Mohd Fuad Bahadin and Inspector Mohaneswaran Thiagarajah arrived, but he was in the room with the patrol unit officers, speaking to them about Tamilasan.
“We had been looking for Tamilasan,” he said.
However, he added that while speaking to the two patrol officers about Tamilasan’s mobile phone, he heard loud noises coming from where the detainees were being held.
“It was a small room and we could not make out the noise,” he said.
He added that upon hearing the noise, he had immediately come out and asked the officers what the matter was.
“But they just looked at me.
“At that time, one of them told me Ang will help us to identify more suspects in Banting,” he said.
“After getting approval from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), we (Fuad, Freddy, Rizal and Vickeneswaran) left the building.”
He said he had informed the officer in charge of the station (OIS) ASP Harun Abu Bakar that he was leaving with Ang to go to Banting.
He added that he had not been at the Bandar Baru Klang police station to interrogate, but “just to identify Tamilasan and to talk”.
Freddy and Rizal, who were called in as witnesses today, said all three detainees looked well when they arrived and left the station to go with Vickneswaran to Banting.
Rizal said the noise which Vickneswaran had heard was when Mohaneswaran had raised his voice at Balamurugan.
He said despite being in the Serious Crime Unit, they did not use violence on detainees.
“We raise our voices,” he said.
Both he and Freddy said Harun had been at the station when they left at 8.10pm.
However, Harun said he had only arrived at 8.35pm and left the station at 9.10pm.
“I came to the station after being told of a theft case,” he said.
“I saw three detainees. All were okay. (Their) eyes (were) okay. (But) Tamilasan’s eyes were red. I suspected it was because of liquor. I saw Ang sitting.
“I spoke to them from about 1.5m away.”
He said Vickneswaran and Mohaneswaran were at the station as well.
“I did not hear any screams. My office door was open, and I could see the officers talking to the detainees, but not the detainees themselves.
“When I left, Ang was not there. I saw the other two (Tamilasan and Balamurugan) sleeping. I asked them if they were okay. Tamilasan said he was okay. Balamurugan shook his head.”
Harun said Balamurugan looked weak as he had been drinking liquor.
He said he had not taken action on the detainees as it was not under his purview. This is because all criminal cases are handled by the Klang Utara district police headquarters.
The officers’ account today contradicted that of Ang and Tamilasan, who testified yesterday that they were punched and kicked during the short interrogation process.
Tamilasan added that Balamurugan was also kicked and punched during interrogation at the Bandar Baru Klang police station.
Dummy CCTVs at police station
When asked about the CCTVs at the police station, including the area where detainees are held, Harun said they had been installed by the previous OIS.
He himself had only started work at the station in January.
“It is a dummy. It does not record. It was installed to deter staff from taking the belongings of other staff.”
He said only a few top officers, including him, knew that the CCTVs did not work.
He added that the CCTVs were obtained from property owners who willingly gave them to the previous OIS.
“The CCTV is not from the operator who ran gambling at a shop. It is the property owner of the shop who gave it to us,” he explained.
No record of Serious Crime Unit officers entering station
Lance Corporal Mohd Farid Abd Kadir was on duty when the three detainees and officers from the Serious Crime Unit arrived.
However, he said he had not recorded the names, or the entry and exit time of the officers as he was busy attending to people who wanted to lodge police reports.
“I didn’t ask their names because I was at the front counter taking down reports. I was told it is regarding the arrest by the patrol unit.”
He added that he could have checked on the condition of the detainees or asked the officers for their names, but had not done so.
Instead, he had called the OIS and informed him about the detainees and the officers.
He said based on his memory, he saw the Serious Crime Unit officers walking to the station about 7.30pm to 7.40pm.
“They closed the door. I could not hear the conversations.”
He said Harun had arrived at 8.30pm.
“I told him Inspector Vickneswaran was in.
“Inspector Vickneswaran and others only took Ang away after the OIS arrived.”
A total of 23 witnesses have been called so far to testify in the case.
The hearing continues tomorrow.