KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Jan 2009: The Bar Council has called for prompt and serious action by the authorities, including an immediate and thorough investigation into the death of police detainee A Kugan, preferably by an independent committee.
“We are shocked and appalled that yet another young man has died in police custody,” Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said in a statement released today.
“Kugan’s death occurred in highly suspicious circumstances which raise alarming questions about the treatment of detainees in police custody and the methods of interrogation used,” she added.
Kuhan, 22, was detained on 15 Jan on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, and was brought to the USJ 8 police station on 20 Jan where he collapsed and died.
Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had said the post-mortem report showed Kuhan died of lung infection but police would investigate the cause of death as there were allegations that he died of physical abuse.
“The onus is squarely on the police, who had custody of the individual, to immediately explain the circumstances of his sudden death,” Ambiga said.
The Bar Council also welcomed the AG’s announcement that he is treating this case as one of murder, and the Inspector-General of Police’s statement that there would be no cover-up.
Ambiga added that this was not the first custodial death in recent years and “our fear is that it will not be the last”.
Such tragedies bring to the fore, once again, the dire need for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct, she said.
The Bar Council also called on the authorities to expedite the ongoing inquests into other custodial deaths.