PUTRAJAYA: A sentry supervisor said he did not seek medical assistance for car theft suspect S Balamurugan, 44, as he assumed the suspect was trembling violently due to alcohol withdrawal.
Corporal Muszanizam Mustaffa, from the Shah Alam central lockup, also said he was told by one of the detainees with Balamurugan that he was alcoholic.
“His case mate told me ‘dia ketagihan arak’ (he is an alcoholic).”
Muszanizam said he received Balamurugan and five other detainees at 3.30am on Feb 7. At 7.30am they were taken to the Klang Magistrate’s Court for remand.
“I saw one of the detainees needed help. He was handcuffed.
“He was trembling. I felt he needed help. But I didn’t help.
“I asked him if he was ok. He didn’t answer,” he said during a hearing conducted by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.
The hearing is being held to determine any police misconduct in the death of Balamurugan on the night of Feb 7 at the Klang Utara district police headquarters.
Lawyer Sivaraj Retinasekharan asked for the identification of the detainee who said Balamurugan was an alcoholic, Muszanizam said he could not remember.
To this Sivaraj said: “But you remember the exact three words that were said to you that ‘dia ketagihan arak’?”
Sivaraj said the detainees caught with Balamurugan on Feb 6 spoke mostly Tamil and needed translators during the hearing.
“They do not speak Malay and it’s unlikely for them to use a big word like ‘ketagihan’ (addiction).”
Tamilasan, Ang and Kanapathy were arrested on Feb 6.
It was then pointed out to him by a Suhakam representative, Sarah Adibah Hamzah, that he had told Suhakam on Feb 15 that a police escort had informed him of Balamurugan’s addiction.
“He (police escort) also said it,” Muszanizam quickly replied.
Muszanizam said Balamurugan was reeking of liquor when he received him at 3.30am from Klang Utara district police headquarters.
“No blood was seen near his mouth. Balamurugan also walked to the police prison on his own.”
He added Balamurugan was walking slowly and trembling.
“I asked him why (are you) trembling. He didn’t answer.”
When queried further by EAIC chairman Yaacob Md Sam the reasons for detainees to shiver badly, Muszanizam replied it could be because of fever or fear.
The sentry supervisor added that the Shah Alam centre does not have a health declaration form to ascertain a detainee’s health unless it was from hospital.
‘Not smelling of alcohol’
Corporal Ridhwan Mohammad, who first brought Balamurugan and Tamilarasan from the Bandar Baru Klang police station to the Klang Utara district police headquarters, testified that Balamurugan was not smelling of alcohol.
The journey was about 10 to 15 minutes just before midnight, said Ridhwan.
“There was no smell of alcohol in the car and Balamurugan was walking in a straight line.”
Lance Corporal Mohd Taufik Awang, who was with Ridhwan, said Balamurugan and Tamilasan looked tired when they were being transferred in the police MPV.
“They were both sleeping. In fact, Balamurugan was snoring.”
This contradicts the evidence of Tamilasan, who had said earlier in his testimony that Balamurugan was coughing blood during the journey from Bandar Baru Klang to Klang Utara district police headquarters.
Tamilasan had said he told both the police officers in the car about Balamurugan’s condition but he alleged Ridhwan had told them: “Serves him right.”
Ridhwan denied the allegation.
Tamilasan had also alleged Balamurugan could not walk straight after being beaten at Bandar Baru Klang police station.
‘Blood on Balamurugan’s nose and mouth’
Coroner Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid said when he visited the Klang Utara district police headquarters on Feb 8 to check on Balamurugan’s body, he saw no bruises but saw blood from the nose and mouth.
“I asked the officer with me what happened but no one replied.”
Today was the last day of the second series of the hearing. The third series will be held on July 10. So far, 34 out of 55 witnesses have been called to testify.
Pathologists had confirmed that Balamurugan had 20 injuries on his body, including on his chest and legs, due to blunt force trauma which triggered a heart attack.
Balamurugan’s family had testified that he had an angiogram a few years ago.