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Lawyer of teen witnesses in Balamurugan case decry their continued remand

Published:  |  Modified:

The lawyer of two teenage boys who were detained along with custodial death victim S Balamurugan have complained his clients were being unjustly remanded, and had allegedly been abused while in detention.

According to The Star Online yesterday, lawyer Mishant Thiruchelvam acting for the two 16-year-olds, told the daily the duo had been "beaten up and detained in an adult lock-up" instead of being kept in a separate facility.

Balamurugan, 44, was arrested on Feb 6 when he was found in the same car with two other men, one of whom was wanted by the police.

He died in police custody at the North Klang district police headquarters on Feb 8.

One of the teenagers was arrested along with the deceased in Bukit Rajah, while the other was arrested subsequently in Banting.

"The police claim that the two boys were arrested for robbery, and though one of them admitted to having committed one, the other boy claims he was never involved in any of the said cases.

"After they were brought to the North Klang police station, remand was granted for four days. On Feb 11, the police applied for three more days of remand, which was granted.

"On Feb 14, the remand for the boys expired, so they were taken to the Banting police station to process a new arrest, following which they were granted two more days of remand until Feb 17," Mishant was reported as saying.

Released after injuries spotted

He said on Feb 17 the two boys were brought to the Telok Datuk court for further remand, but the magistrate, Marsilawati Mohd Shah, denied the request after seeing his clients "were severely injured".

However, said Mishant, the duo were rearrested upon emerging from the court and taken to South Klang police headquarters where they were remanded until Feb 21

"Just as they were about to get into the car, the police rearrested them and applied for two more days of remand.

"Oddly enough, another Klang magistrate granted the police four days remand instead of the applied two days and we are unsure why," he was reported telling the English daily.

He said he has lodged a police report, and added he has yet to obtain any updates on the status of his clients.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Balamurugan are calling for his death to be investigated as murder, after a second post-mortem ordered by the court revealed the presence of blunt force trauma.

Human rights group Suaram in a statement today also condemned the continued remand of the two youths.

"The practice of rearrest and chain remand represents a blatant abuse of power by the Royal Malaysian Police and it is an infringement of an individual’s fundamental human rights both under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"This practice exploits the existing loopholes and abuse the remand proceeding in order to unlawfully detain a person under the veil of legality," said Suaram executive director D Sevan.

Sevan noted the latest remand was granted despite complaints of police brutality against the duo.

"The courts should have taken into account the welfare of minors and elements of human rights violations in granting the remand orders.

"In the interest of the welfare of the two detained minors, no further remand orders should be granted by the magistrate's court," he said.

Sevan also called on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) to step in and investigate the matter.

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