Lawyers representing the family of deceased navy cadet officer J Soosaimanicckam are seeking the intervention of the Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (above) over what they claim is the unwillingness of the Perak health department to hand over the "final and conclusive post-mortem report".
Lawyers Zaid Malek and Mahajoth Singh today alleged that the post-mortem report that the hospital and health department claim was surrendered to the family was merely a preliminary report minus the lab results.
"We must state here that the Perak health department is blatantly attempting to mislead the public […] the final and conclusive post-mortem report was never released to the family and is being actively withheld from them by the authorities.
"This is highly unusual and improper as usually, the deceased family receives the final post-mortem report. It is the absolute legal right of the family to be given a copy of the report.
"We call upon the health minister to step in and ensure justice and transparency […] the Perak health department must release the final and conclusive post-mortem report to the family without any further excuses.
“The health ministry must also investigate those who are denying the family’s legal right to a copy of it," the lawyers, from rights groups Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), said in a statement today.
Their statement comes following the insistence by state health department director Dr Ding Lay Ming on Saturday that the autopsy report had been handed over to the deceased's family.
Ding stated that the post-mortem at Seri Manjung Hospital had been conducted according to existing standard operating procedures (SOP).
She also claimed that it was against hospital SOP to discuss post-mortem findings with lawyers and as such the hospital "politely" rejected the family's request to have lawyers present during a meeting called with them last week.
'Public interest issue'
The meeting with Soosaimanicckam's brother Calvin Joseph was scheduled after the family lodged a formal report through the Sispaa (Public Services Complaint Management System) against the hospital following their dissatisfaction with the said report.
In their response today, Zaid and Mahajoth claimed the hospital representatives were not polite but "confrontational" on the day of the meeting when questioned on why lawyers were barred from accompanying Calvin.
They said: "The SOP excuse given is vague and, in fact, on the day of the meeting, when asked, the hospital representatives failed to show any such rule.
"The hospital and the Perak health department have failed to grasp the gravity of the situation at hand. The death of Soosaimanicckam is a public interest issue that must be handled transparently."
Soosaimanicckam, 27, had died on May 19, a week after enrolling at the Lumut naval base for cadet training.
LFL advisor N Surendran (above, right) had claimed that the cadet had alleged torture in a text message to his brother, a day after his enrolment.
Suspecting foul play, the family lodged two police reports on Soosaimanicckam's death. In July, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu pledged a thorough investigation into the death.