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Ignoring Mat Sabu's call to re-probe cadet's death casts doubt on Navy - lawyer

Published:  |  Modified:

The Navy chief has been blasted for not carrying out a fresh probe into the death of a cadet as Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has instructed, saying this would create doubt and raise suspicions.

Human rights lawyer N Surendran said admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman's assurance to the family of cadet J Soosaimanicckam yesterday that the probe had been completed and he is awaiting the results was "unacceptable".

This, said the former MP, is because the present investigation into the death at the Lumut naval base on May 19, 2018, had not been thorough enough.

“Mohamad Sabu's order was made in response to the family's complaint on the Navy's probe and handling of the matter in the first place. It is thus disturbing for the Navy chief to rely on that same earlier probe in his public response to the minister's order.

“In the so-called 'investigation' carried out by the Navy earlier, which Kamarulzaman now relies upon, the family members of Soosaimanicckam were not even called to give evidence or have their statements recorded.

“Yet, the Navy was fully aware that the family members were in possession of crucial evidence regarding Soosaimanicckam's death, as this had been conveyed by the family to Navy officials.

“The evidence in the family's possession included a WhatsApp message from Soosaimanicckam to his brother, in which he said he was being 'tortured'. This was a harrowing and critical piece of evidence; a direct complaint of abuse made by the deceased himself.

“What sort of 'investigation' was it that ignored this kind of evidence?” said Surendran, who is the lawyer acting for Soosaimanicckam's family, in a statement.

'Documents ignored'

He said other documentary evidence in the family's possession were also not sought or obtained by the Navy.

“Was this then a serious probe by the Navy into the real cause of Soosaimanicckam's death?” he asked.

He said Kamarulzaman's public statement on the matter instead of carrying out Mohamad's instructions, was a “clear disregard of the defence minister's order”.

Not to probe further would creates doubts and suspicion on the Navy, he said.

“It was obviously due to the unsatisfactory manner in which the inquiry had been done, that caused the defence minister yesterday to order a fresh investigation with no cover-up.

“27-year-old persons do not simply drop dead just one week into cadet training. Kamarulzaman and the Navy have thus far failed to provide any explanation whatsoever as to how this could have happened,” said Surendran.

Urging the admiral to comply with the minister, Surendran also called on the police to carry out criminal investigations into the matter.

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