KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has opened investigations into the death of Mariappan Manivannan at the Bentong prison in Pahang.
Suhakam commissioner Gerald Joseph said the commission began its investigation a day after he died on June 6.
“From what I heard from the family, there was no indication of abuse but the issue here is negligence.
“There are serious issues at stake. Why must someone die in our penal system?
“In Malaysia, no one should die for any reason except natural causes. I think, in this case, the death could have been prevented,” he said today after meeting Mariappan’s family members, led by the stepfather, Ayyakanu Sinnasamy, 45.
Joseph added that Suhakam would get the doctors who treated Mariappan and those in the prison in charge of him to cooperate and give information.
Mariappan, 24, died at the Bentong prison after complaining of being unwell for about a month.
Pahang police said the post-mortem report showed he died from severe acute gastroenteritis.
Mariappan was jailed on April 18 for housebreaking. He was to be released on Jan 7 next year.
Ayyakanu said his stepson was in a healthy condition before he was imprisoned.
“When we visited him on April 22, he was fine but on the second visit on May 20, he was really sick and could not talk.
“How can it be like that? How can he fall sick that badly within a month? We were very shocked and sad to find that he died on June 6.
“Until now, we have not received any information from the hospital or the prison.
“We just received the death certificate but nothing on the post-mortem report.
“I did follow up with the prison and the hospital but I was referred to another hospital,” he told reporters after handing in a memorandum to Suhakam.
He urged Suhakam to investigate what might have contributed to the death, including the medical treatment provided, the quality of food, hygiene and nutrition, and the prison facilities.
He also wanted an investigation of the hospital and clinic on whether they were careless in handling prisoners.
Lawyers for Liberty, which represents the family, also said that they had not received anything from the authorities, including the post-mortem report.
The group’s campaign coordinator, Nursyahirah Mohd Daud, said they had been following the case closely and called on Suhakam to review the prison’s procedures.
“We urge Suhakam to recommend that prisons set up CCTVs (closed-circuit television cameras) so that they can better monitor the prisoners and officers in charge,” she said.