Penang to meet A-G over custodial death cases

The Penang government will send representatives to meet the Attorney-General to discuss issues surrounding custodial death cases in the state, said Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P.Ramasamy


Published: 2 October 2014

The Penang government will send representatives to meet the Attorney-General to discuss issues surrounding custodial death cases in the state, said Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P.Ramasamy

He said this today after announcing that the state government had received a letter, dated August 29, from the Attorney-General’s Chambers that a meeting would be arranged.

“No date has been set for the appointment. It will be decided later after investigations into the deaths of several detainees in Penang have been completed.

“But, this is a positive development. We thank the A-G for agreeing to meet us,” he told pressmen at his Komtar office today.

He said the A-G’s consent to meet came after he and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sent letters to the Chambers about the deaths in lock-up cases in Penang.

Ramasamy reiterated that the best way to investigate custodial death cases was to have the A-G’s Chambers set up a body to probe the incidents independently.

He said the body under the Chambers would be able to do a more objective probe than the police.

Ramasamy, who chairs the state’s custodial death taskforce that was set up a few months ago to look into the incidents in Penang, said there were over 10 custodial death cases nationwide to-date.

He said seven cases were from Penang.

On February 10, A. Punniyanathan, 40, died while at the Nibong Tebal lock-up on mainland Penang while J. Kulanthangam, 34, died on February 18 at the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur.

Ramasamy Nagu, 50, died at the Bayan Baru centralised lock-up in Penang on March 1.

On March 8, Kamarulnizam Ismail, 39, died in Tapah Prison in Perak, a day after he was sent there from the Seberang Prai Tengah district police headquarters lock-up in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

Koay Soon Guan, 41, was found dead at the Penang Prison on April 6 and on April 12, odd-job labourer M. Murugan, 37, died at the Seberang Jaya Hospital on mainland Penang while under custody.

Morgan Arjunan, 48, died on April 16 at the Jinjang police station and Rahmat Md Noor, 56, died on April 27 at the Bayan Baru centralised lock-up.

Koh Kheng Soon was found dead on June 6 while being held overnight at the Kuantan police station in Pahang.

S.Agin Raj Naidu, 26, died at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital on June 7 after he was held a few days at the SPT district police headquarters.

Last Sunday, the latest death occurred when Tee Meng Hua, 56, allegedly jumped from the first floor of the Seberang Prai Utara district police headquarters in Kepala Batas, Penang while he was being questioned for a cheating case.

The man, who was handcuffed at the time, died on the spot from severe head injuries.

State police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi on Monday said that police inquiry papers have been opened to investigate whether there was negligence on the part of the police officers on duty.

Ramasamy said a taskforce would try to get an appointment with Rahim next week to talk about the latest incident and find out how it happened.

He said Penang viewed such incidents very seriously, with the taskforce aiming to do its part effectively to stop such incidents from recurring although it had no jurisdiction over such matters.

“We want to see zero custodial deaths,” he said.

Ramasamy also said following discussions with human rights non-governmental organisations that were concerned about custodial deaths, such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), the taskforce would employ a full-time staff.

He said, the officer, who would be appointed by the state, would handle matters related to such incidents such as collecting information, carry out research and liaise with the families of the deceased.

“I will prepare the paperwork and submit it to the state to hire an officer for this job. Hopefully, we will have someone by January next year.

“We need to have some form of support system for the families too,” he added. – October 2, 2014.