Navy trying to dodge probe into ‘torture’ death, says family

The navy chief, Ahmad Kamarulzaman, said an investigation had already been carried out. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The lawyer for the family of navy cadet officer J Soosaimanicckam who died during training on May 19 have accused navy chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin of trying to “sidestep” the defence minister’s order to investigate the incident.

N Surendran said the navy needed to undertake a full probe immediately in accordance with the instructions of minister Mohamad Sabu, and make the findings public.

He said the family was in possession of evidence that included a message from Soosaimanicckam telling his brother that he had been tortured.

“No stone must be left unturned. Meanwhile, the police must also carry out criminal investigations into the matter,” he said in a statement today.

Kamarulzaman yesterday reportedly said that an investigation had been conducted and the navy was awaiting the investigation report.

He said he had personally met the family to state that every effort was being made over the issue.

Yesterday, defence minister Mohamad said he had directed that an investigation be carried out. He urged Soosaimanicckam’s family to be patient, promising stern action if any foul play was discovered.

Surendran claimed  that Kamarulzaman was disregarding Mohamad’s order.

“Mat Sabu’s order was made in response to the family’s complaint about the navy’s handling of the matter in the first place. It is thus disturbing for the navy chief to rely on that same earlier investigation in his public response to the minister’s order,” he said.

He said the family members were not called to give evidence nor did they have their statements recorded in the purported “investigation” referred to by Kamarulzaman.

“Yet, the navy was fully aware that the family members were in possession of crucial evidence regarding Soosaimanicckam’s death, as this had been conveyed by the family to navy officials,” he said.

He said the evidence included a WhatsApp message from Soosaimanicckam to his brother, in which he said he was being “tortured”.

He said the navy had ignored evidence in the family’s possession.

Soosaimanicckam, 27, died while undergoing training at a military college in Lumut. He had reportedly complained of chest pains while undergoing his daily training and was treated at the KD Sultan Idris 1 training camp.

Surendran said “27-year-old persons do not simply drop dead just one week into cadet training”. He accused Kamarulzaman and the navy of failing to provide any explanation about how it could have happened.