GEORGE TOWN: An activist alleged that a 21-year-old man placed in the remand prison at Sungai Petani, Kedah, died today from beatings he received in prison.
Seberang Perai councillor and rights activist P David Marshel said Gopal Krisnan Rajalinggam was pronounced dead at Sungai Petani Hospital at 2.30pm after he was warded for an unspecified ailment last Wednesday.
“Gopal had told his mother and girlfriend (while in prison) that he was often beaten by the wardens for no reason and this was relayed to them every week when they came to visit,” he said in a statement.
David said Gopal, who was being investigated for a drug offence, was arrested in Penang on May 12 and placed at the remand prison while waiting for his next case mention.
He said that when the family visited him in hospital, he was unconscious and had wounds on both his arms. Parts of his body were also swollen.
“When the family asked the doctor what was wrong, the doctor told them he had lung infection. He never woke up,” he said.
David said the family called him for help as Gopal did not have any health issues before his detention.
“We are watching this case closely as many are dying in custody in our prisons,” he said.
Gopal’s fiancee, Tan Sze Lin, 20, lodged a report at the Kuala Muda district police headquarters today.
In her report, she said Gopal was arrested on May 12 for drug possession. On June 4, when she and Gopal’s mother visited him in prison, Gopal claimed that he was assaulted by the prison wardens.
“Gopal was crying when he told us that he was hit in the head. He had also told the wardens that he was feverish and was throwing up.
“The wardens then told Gopal to roll on a tarred road as they did not believe he was ill,” the report read.
Tan said two police officers went to the mother’s house in Air Itam here last Wednesday to inform her that Gopal had been hospitalised.
She said that upon reaching the hospital, she found Gopal had sustained injuries on his hands and his head was swollen.
“The doctors told us that he had a lung infection due to drug use. We will not claim the body unless a proper post mortem is done,” she said.
Kuala Muda district police chief Adzly Abu Shah confirmed receiving Tan’s report.