Mind-boggling, lawyers group says after cops halt probe into custodial death

Lawyer Zaid Malek with P Karuna Nithi’s brother, P Elam Sezhian, after lodging a police report on Feb 27.

PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today criticised the decision by the police to halt investigations into a custodial death which took place seven years ago, launched after a police report lodged by the victim’s brother in February.

LFL coordinator Zaid Malek said they were told that the police had stopped investigating the death of P Karuna Nithi because they concluded that the report concerns a “non-seizable offence”.

“This is utterly ridiculous and unjustifiable because the police report involves a death in custody, pursuant to the verdict of the Coroner’s Court that the cause of death was due to the actions of police officers and detainees when the deceased was remanded in the Tampin police district headquarters.

“This verdict was even upheld by the Court of Appeal,” Zaid said.

In a statement, he said 49 injuries had been found on Karuna’s body and expressed disbelief that “the police do not think they need to enquire any further into the matter”.

“It boggles the mind of any reasonable man,” he added.

Karuna was found dead in the lock-up on June 1, 2013. He had been remanded in late May following an altercation with his wife. His family was unable to raise bail after he was charged in court.

In 2015, the Coroner’s Court ruled that he had sustained 49 external injuries due to assault with blunt objects.

An inquest into his death also concluded that it was accelerated by the police’s failure to prevent other detainees from abusing him, and to provide the necessary medical care.

Zaid said the fact that no one has been charged so far is a “travesty and blight to their (the police’s) integrity and the justice system as a whole”.

“We urge the police to seriously investigate the death of Karuna in full force,” he added.

“The family has waited six years for justice to be served, they must not be left waiting a moment longer.”