It was murder in prison, Shashikumar inquest told

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JOHOR BHARU: The inquest into the death of S Shashikumar, who was found hanged at the Kluang prison on May 22, 2015, ended yesterday before coroner Kamarudin Kamsom.

Lawyers P Waythamoorthy and Karthigesan Shanmugam, who appeared for the family of Shashikumar, submitted that he had died either of strangulation or hanging by person or persons unknown.

Waytha told the inquest that there was a cover up of the murder and that the prison and police officers who had investigated the death of Shashikumar had done a very poor job.

He said the officers who gave evidence were evasive in their answers and that many questions had been left unanswered, including about a drug ring in the prison.

Waytha submitted that it was clear that even the police investigating officers were not bothered to get to the bottom of the death of Shashikumar when evidence pointed to the fact that he did not hang himself using his trousers as claimed by prison officers.

It was previously reported that Shashikumar had been sentenced to 10 years in jail for having stolen rice and two cans of sardines. He was serving the first year of his jail term when he died.

In prison, he had been found to possess 4.12 grammes of heroin, with the drugs hidden in his rectum about 9.30am on May 20.

It had earlier been reported that one of those who gave evidence at the inquest, Inspector Junizen Jaffri, had taken a statement from Shashikumar who was in an isolation unit on May 20, 2015, for almost an hour.

He said: “Shashikumar admitted he obtained the heroin from another inmate named Singh. He also said there were many other inmates involved in drugs, possibly going into hundreds.

“Shashikumar asked for his safety to be guaranteed by prison authorities in exchange for his full confession on the issue of drugs in the prison.”

Shashikumar was found dead in the isolation unit two days later, allegedly having used his trousers to hang himself. His cell was supposedly guarded round the clock, according to prison requirements.

Junizen had also informed the inquest that Shashikumar told him that prison officers were involved in the drug ring, but that he had not asked for the identity of the officers involved.

The case of Shashikumar was taken up by Hindraf.