Malaysiakini News

'Police are culpable for Balamurugan’s death'

Charles Santiago  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS The second post-mortem report is out. The conclusion by the Kuala Lumpur Hospital pathologist clearly demonstrates the above-the-law entitlement by the Malaysian police.

The post-mortem report states Balamurugan Suppiah's death was caused by coronary artery disease with multiple blunt force injuries.

Just like the hundreds of thousands of people out there, I too connected the dots.

It doesn't take anyone two seconds to conclude that the senseless beating by the police must have contributed largely to Balamurugan's death.

According to his wife, he had one stent and two more blocks in his heart.

The pathologist's report is enough for the police to detain the errant police officers who had interrogated Balamurugan and to charge them in an open court.

The court hearing must be independent and have legitimacy, in that it must be able to instil confidence in the public that there is no manipulation by people with vested interests.

There were deep injuries on Balamurugan's body and he was vomiting blood in the court, compelling the magistrate to deny remand and instead order him to be taken to the hospital right away.

The police did not comply with the ruling and instead took him back to the police station. He died there.

It doesn't take much to visually imagine the gruesome physical abuse unleashed against Balamurugan by the police.

The police have no business torturing or beating up detainees. They are not above the law and cannot continue to abuse their authority or power.

Last year's report by Suaram, the country's pioneer human rights organisation, said that 721 prisoners were reported to have died in custody during the 2013 to April 30, 2016 period, averaging 18 deaths per month.

Despite this, the police continue to exert excessive force during investigations in custody and they do so with impunity, often going scot-free from legal consequences.

I know this has been repeated enough times, but it's crucial that an independent oversight body is set up, without any further delay, to investigate the police when their practice falls below acceptable standards.

I attended Balamurugan's funeral on Sunday. It was heartbreaking to see his wife and daughter.

This in itself reinforces the need for criminal accountability as we cannot continue to grant immunity to police officers who can't seem to stop themselves from indulging in acts of torture.

CHARLES SANTIAGO is the Member of Parliament for Klang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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