PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago has called for an official inquiry into alleged police negligence following the death of a detainee while en route to hospital for medical treatment yesterday.
Ganeshwaran Gunasigeren, 29, had been arrested for allegedly breaking into a factory in Bukit Tinggi.
Santiago said he was calling for the inquiry given the contradictory statements by the South Klang police chief and Ganeshwaran’s mother, in the interest of public accountability and good governance.
He said Ganeshwaran’s mother had disputed the police statement which claimed there were no signs of discomfort when Ganeshwaran was transported to Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, and that he was “looking healthy and talking normally”.
“I spoke to Ganeshwaran’s mother at the mortuary. She told me a different story.
“She was present, by chance, when her son was taken to the hospital. During a brief chat, Ganeshwaran told her he was kicked in the throat by police officers and refrained from eating for two days as he could not swallow food.
“She told me Ganeshwaran had blood in his mouth and had lost consciousness while talking to her,” he said.
This went against the stand of pathologists who said there were no visible signs of torture on Ganeshwaran’s body.
Santiago said it was difficult to say conclusively that the police beating had led to Ganeshwaran’s death.
He added however that they had been negligent, yet again, in not taking swift action despite Ganeshwaran complaining of nausea and showing signs of being unwell after not eating for two days.
Ganeshwaran’s mother also claimed that her son had vomited earlier that day, he said.
“He had no history of asthma, as indicated by the police. There is no reason for him to lie to his mother, and neither would she concoct an untrue story.
“The police need to protect people under their custody, including providing adequate health care and swift hospitalisation.
“In fact, such a suggestion has been made to the police and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, repeatedly.”
According to Santiago, some 1,654 people had died in police custody between 2010 and February 2017, while three people died in the first three months of the year.
He said deaths in police custody demonstrated the abuse of due process, judicial process and police powers.
“It should be treated with the same urgency as murder enquiries to restore confidence in the police force.
“It is time to set up the long-overdue Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as it’s outrageous for the police to investigate themselves.
“This is more so as the existing Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), created in 2011 by the government in place of the IPCMC, has clearly failed to rein in the number of deaths in police custody and other custodial deaths as well.”
Lawyer Latheefa Koya had earlier tweeted: “Anor (another) death in custody! Indian man 28 years old, Ganeshwaran. Mother who met him earlier – said son complained of being beaten by police.
“@mpklang (Charles Santiago) & @nsurendrann (N Surendran) talking to the latest death in custody victim’s distraught mother,” the PKR central committee member added.