Malaysiakini News

Cops ignored screams for help from lock-up, Balamurugan inquiry told

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Two police officers turned a deaf ear to the screams for help by detainees, including from the room holding S Balamurugan, who died in custody at the Klang Utara district police headquarters on Feb 8.

This was the testimony of Lance Corporal Anwar Nyat and Lance Corporal Sabri Abu Bakar at an inquiry into Balamurugan's death by the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC), Berita Daily reported.

Anwar and Sabri heard the screams at the Bandar Baru Klang police station where Balamurugan and two other suspects were first taken after they were arrested at about 6.30pm on Feb 6.

The two rank-and-file officers said they felt it would be disrespectful to their superiors who came from the Serious Crime Unit (D9) of the Klang Utara district police station.

“I heard them screaming… calling out to stop and cries for help… I did not check on them and I do not know what happened,” Anwar reportedly testified.

He said Balamurugan, 44, appeared to be falling asleep and did not have injury marks on him, after the D9 officers left.

He was handcuffed to another detainee and could walk, Anwar said.

Sabri said he did not want to intervene when he heard the screaming because he "did not want to get involved".

"They (the D9 officers) are my seniors,” he said.

Wife heard Balamurugan wailing in pain

Natthanan Yoochmsuk, Balamurugan's wife, told the EAIC she had also heard her husband screaming at the Bandar Baru Klang police station.

She was there on Feb 6 after being told that her husband was arrested.

"When I got to the station the police said he was inside and that I can't meet him. Approximately 45 minutes later, a group of policemen walked into the station, and shortly after I heard my husband screaming," she was quoted by The Star as saying during her testimony.

"I couldn't really make out what he was saying. He was just in a lot of pain. I heard others shouting as well," she said, speaking in Thai through an interpreter.

According to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Balamurugan was shivering and not able to walk when he was sent from the Bandar Baru Klang police station to the Shah Alam Centralised Lockup at about 4.10am on Feb 7.

The three suspects were brought to the Klang Magistrate's Court at about 10am that day for remand proceedings, but the court refused to issue a remand order for Balamurugan after he vomited blood in court.

The magistrate instructed police to take Balamurugan to hospital immediately but he was instead taken to the North Klang district police headquarters at about 1.15pm. He died the next day.

A second post-mortem report showed that he was beaten in custody.

Ten police officers at the North Klang district police headquarters are being probed over his death but none were suspended pending this investigation.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last month told Parliament that there have been 284 lock-up deaths since 2000, mostly due to health reasons. Only two died from police brutality, he added.

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