Thanabalan and 10 others unwell in lockup, says official

PETALING JAYA: Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says driving instructor Thanabalan Subramaniam, who died in police custody on Saturday night, had been ill along with 10 other inmates in the same lockup.

He said Thanabalan, 38, had suffered fever, diarrhoea and loss of appetite in the four days leading to his death.

However, the cause of death had not been determined as the report on the autopsy by Hospital Shah Alam had not been issued.

“During the investigation, we found 10 other cases in the lockup of the Shah Alam district police headquarters, with detainees complaining of being unwell with various symptoms,” Hisham said.

“Nine of them had light symptoms like coughing and flu, while another person had stomach ache and diarrhoea.

“Seven of them were treated at the lockup by a team from Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang. The other three were referred to Shah Alam for treatment before they were allowed to be brought back to the lockup,” he said in a statement.

Thanabalan’s family said he was arrested by the police in front of Soo Jin primary school on March 29 while dropping off one of his children.

The family then received a phone call from the police on Tuesday night to say that Thanabalan had passed away after a heart attack.

Thanabalan, who was allegedly detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), died at the Shah Alam Hospital after being rushed there from the police headquarters, where he had been held for some 20 days.

Yesterday, Selangor police said they suspected that the centralised lockup where he was being held had been contaminated by an infection.

Hisham said the district health office and state Health Department were disinfecting the area as a preventive measure and isolating the detainees who had been affected.

“If they are found to be unwell, they will be referred to the nearby health facility for examination and treatment,” he said, adding that officers and detainees at the police headquarters were also being given relevant health education.

He also said the lockup was found to be in a “clean and controlled” condition.

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