Categorised | Letters to the Editor

What about R Gunasegaran?

R GUNASEGARAN died in police custody on 16 July 2009, the same day that Teoh Beng Hock died.

Guasegaran’s body still lies in the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (KLH) mortuary. His family is anxious to retrieve his remains, perform the requisite religious rituals, and then proceed to cremate his remains.

Gunasegaran’s family, though, is in a dilemma. The police have informed the family that Gunasegaran died, while in their custody, of drug-related causes.

Eyewitnesses who were present when Gunasegaran was first arrested and then held at the Sentul police station have confirmed that he was assaulted at the time of arrest, and again assaulted, this time more severely, while being held at the police station. He then apparently lost consciousness and died without regaining consciousness.

The family has been told that the post mortem report will only be made available after Gunasegaran’s body is removed from the mortuary and after an application has been made to the hospital authorities for the same. The family has been told that the report will be made available to them some two months after their application for the same.

Acting on the instructions of Gunasegaran’s family members, solicitors wrote:

by letter dated 29 July 2009 to the Registrar of the Kuala Lumpur Subordinate Courts to notify the same of the death in police custody of Gunasegaran and to request that an inquest into the cause of death be held. We have not been informed by the solicitors if they have received any response from the court registry in relation thereto, or if a date for an inquest hearing has been set;

by letter dated 29 July 2009 to the Jabatan Perubatan Forensik, KLH to formally request for a copy of the post mortem report. No reply has been received to date;

by letter dated 29 July 2009 to the Pusat Perubatan Universiti Hospital (PPUH) to request that a second post mortem be performed on the remains of Gunasegaran. The solicitors were informed that such a post mortem can only be undertaken if the police authorities confirmed their agreement to the same in writing;

by letter dated 30 July 2009 to the OCPD of the Sentul police station to request that a letter be issued to PPUH to confirm that the police had no objections to the latter undertaking a second post mortem on the remains of Gunasegaran.

The solicitors representing the family of Gunasegaran, concerned that the authorities who have been written to may not respond favourably, filed an application in the Kuala Lumpur High Court seeking orders that, among others, a copy of the first post mortem report be made available to the family, and that the PPUH proceed to perform the second post mortem.

The application in the High Court is now scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009.

Dr Prashant [N Samberkar] of the PPUH, who is scheduled to do the second post mortem, and who is also scheduled to give evidence in the Teoh inquest, was prepared to do the second post mortem today. But he has informed the solicitors that the Malaysian Medical Council, since the controversy following the two post mortems in the A Kugan case, requires that the medical officer who performed the first post mortem be present when the second procedure is performed. As to when this medical officer will avail himself [or herself] so that the second post mortem may proceed without any further delay, no one can say.

In the light of eyewitness accounts that Gunasegaran was assaulted, the unavailability of the report of a post mortem that has already been carried out, and the seeming police reluctance to allow the second post mortem to be conducted expeditiously to either confirm or dispel the eyewitnesses’ assertions, how can anyone expect Gunasegaran’s family to perform the funeral rites?

This is why Gunasegaran’s body still remains in the mortuary.

We now demand that:

the court immediately holds an inquest to look into Gunasegaran’s cause of death;

the hospital authorities stop this practice of deferring the delivery of the post mortem report to the next of kin in death-in-police-custody cases until after the body has been buried and/or cremated. Given the suspicious circumstances of deaths in many of these cases, it is simply unacceptable that the next of kin should not be privy to this important report before the body of the deceased is buried or cremated. We note that in the Kugan case, the family of the deceased was at least informed of the substantive findings from the first post mortem report;

either the prime minister, the home minister or the health minister immediately intervene in this matter so that the report of the post mortem that has already been performed will be made available to Gunasegaran’s family; and that PPUH can proceed to perform the second post mortem.

The People’s Parliament
Civil Right Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Writer Alliance for Media Independence
Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform
Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre Bhd

Jemaah Islah Malaysia
Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor
Centre for Policy Initiative

Serdang Bharu School Alumni Youth Section
Bar Council

17 Aug 2009

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5 Responses to “What about R Gunasegaran?”

  1. fslam says:

    What are the police or the HKL authorities afraid of when what they say is true?

    Show that you are transparent and professional in your dealings.

    After all, R Gunasegaran’s family has every right to know how their son died. If the police are not in the wrong, why is there hesitation?

  2. Kamal says:

    Why the delay? I wonder why we seem to be moving further and further away from being compassionate? I suppose when there is no recourse we demand political intervention, but have our professionals become so insensitive?

  3. yong says:

    It is the NORM for the BN led security forces to deny justice to the general public, be they of any race. It does not matter if you die in custody. The standard answer will be they died of natura//drug related [causes] or even sucide. It is common knowledge – that interrogation tactics do include [rough handling] physical assault with rubber hoses on the soles of feet, placing telephone directories on the chests of detainees before forcefully hitting them – these practices normally do not leave marks.

    But what one senior officer told me some years ago is still vividly engrained in my memory: “He is a pariah – not a rich/important persons’ relative, who will care?” After some time everthing will be forgotten. This maxim has proved to be true! Only two cases come to mind where officers were held to be accountable – one a Chief Inspector was jailed for causing the death of a nephew of someone important and another was suicides in custody! Do you recall one where a robbery suspect also jumped out the window of a Police HQ with hands handcuffed some years ago?
    Will desperate men do this? To be a hero – sacrifice oneself, take the infomation to the grave to save someone else?

    Well! Only GOD and the interrogating officers and the victims know but dead men tell no tales!

  4. Phil says:

    There’s only ONE recourse left.

    CHANGE the federal government.

    Then conduct a thorough purge of institutions like the police, MACC etc.

  5. Alan Tan says:

    Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to hide.

    I smell the stink of piss running down someone’s trouser leg.

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