Lawyer and NGOs slam Bukit Aman for investigating journalists and their articles instead of focusing on A Ganapathy’s death in custody.
PETALING JAYA: The police’s decision to call up two Malaysiakini sub-editors for questioning today over three articles the news portal published about the controversial death of A Ganapathy has been condemned by his lawyer and two rights groups.
Ganapathy, 40, a cow’s milk trader, was detained by police on Feb 24 and died in hospital on April 18 after a month of treatment.
His family alleged that he had been beaten while in custody and had suffered severe injuries to his legs, arms and shoulders – claims which Gombak police chief Arifai Tarawe has denied.
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Amnesty International Malaysia said the police investigation into Ganapathy’s death must be open and transparent while Article 19 said the media should not face persecution for reporting Ganapathy’s death.
Meanwhile, lawyer K Ganesh said he was surprised police were investigating the journalists instead of focusing on Ganapathy’s death, asking why police chose to take a statement from the two sub-editors, but not from Ganapathy – who was detained for 12 days.
“Where is the logic in that?” he asked.
“I think they are trying to suppress information. Shouldn’t the police be investigating his death? Especially when the person arrested with him (Sritharan Kukaneson) said they were assaulted (by the police).
“A mother has lost her son, children have lost their father and siblings have lost their brother. Which is more important here? Ganapathy’s death or the police’s image?”
FMT had previously reported that Sritharan, who was arrested with Ganapathy on Feb 24 to assist in investigations involving Ganapathy’s brother, told his lawyer that they were beaten up at the Batu Caves police station car park after their arrest.
Sritharan, who is detained under the Prevention of Crime Act, remains behind bars.
Malaysiakini reported today that the sub-editors were investigated under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code, which penalises “whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or against the public tranquillity”.
“Reporting on the case, talking about the case, demanding a transparent investigation, asking for #JusticeForGanapathy is not disrupting ‘public peace’,” said Amnesty International Malaysia on Twitter.
“Violence + injustice is the disruption of peace.”
Stating that Ganapathy’s family deserves to know what happened to him, Amnesty International Malaysia stressed that the press must be allowed to report on the case as a matter of public interest.
“But if police are the alleged perpetrators, who is investigating the police?,” asked Amnesty.
Meanwhile, Article 19 called on authorities to recognise the concerns of the public by allowing journalists to carry out their duties safely.
“The media is especially important in cases of alleged police brutality and deaths in custody due to the lack of independent oversight mechanisms in Malaysia,” said Article 19 on Twitter.
“Stifling the media (creates) a huge gap between state authorities and the public, obstructing freedom of expression.”