Family of man who died in court lockup wants immediate inquest

eric-mellisa-1PETALING JAYA: The lawyers for the family of Vickraman Devid, who died in police custody in the Shah Alam court complex on June 15, have called on the authorities to immediately commence an inquest into the matter.

In a statement today, lawyers Eric Paulsen and Melissa Sasidaran said an inquest would be mandatory under the Criminal Procedure Code as this was a custodial death.

“We call upon the coroner or the public prosecutor to immediately commence an inquest proceeding so as to determine the manner in which Vickraman had died in custody and as to whether his death was accelerated by any unlawful acts or omissions by any persons,” they said.

They said there were serious questions over the events leading to his passing away and also the cause of the death, as he did not have any known history of life-threatening diseases and such a person should not normally collapse and die after a couple of days in detention.

“We further call for all police detention personnel and officers to comply strictly with the police’s new ‘Standard Operating Procedure Pengurusan PDRM’ issued in 2014 so as to minimise any danger to the life and well-being of detainees under their custody,” they added.

The lawyers said Vickraman’s family members were informed of his death the day after it happened.

They had been told that the 37-year old had collapsed in a court lockup but was deemed well enough to continue with his remand hearing. However, he collapsed again.

“Medical attention was provided by medical personnel from the Shah Alam Hospital but he was later pronounced dead in hospital,” the lawyers said.

They said the post-mortem was done soon after without the family’s knowledge and they were only able to see and claim his body on the night of June 16 after it was completed.

The cause of death was stated as “non-compaction cardiomyopathy”.

“The family said Vickraman was a healthy man and did not have any history of heart-related illnesses,” they said, adding that he left behind a wife and three young children.

They said several post-mortem outcomes from previous death-in-custody cases have been challenged and were controversial, citing those of A. Kugan (died on Jan 20, 2009), Karuna Nithi (June 1, 2013) and C. Sugumar (Jan 23, 2013).

“Malaysia must not be allowed to develop into a police state where a detainee can die or be killed while in police custody without any accountability or redress,” the lawyers said.

“Custodial deaths must not be allowed to become common occurrence in Malaysia,” they added.

The lawyers also said remand detainees are innocent until convicted in court and like other citizens are entitled to their basic human rights during detention.