LFL calls for negligence probe after remand prisoner dies from TB

Modified 28 May 2019, 9:40 am

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has urged the police to investigate the death of a 25-year-old man who was a remand prisoner at the Sungai Buloh prison when he died.

They claimed that there were elements of criminal negligence which may have caused the death of M Proosothaman, whose cause of death was stated to be multiple organ failure due to disseminated tuberculosis.

“We call upon the police to launch an immediate investigation into this death which has elements of criminal negligence causing death,” said LFL lawyer Melissa Sasidaran (photo below) in a statement today.

Proosothaman, who had been in the Sungai Buloh prison since December 2018, was brought to the Sungai Buloh hospital on May 21, 2019 where he later died on May 25.

His family members, who had visited him in prison, said he had earlier complained of serious fever, stomachache, diarrhoea and had difficulty walking due to the intense pain, yet he was only given a Panadol.

Melissa said they were told by the pathologist who conducted the post-mortem that Proosothaman would have displayed gradual symptoms of tuberculosis such as prolonged coughing, coughing with blood, fever, loss of weight and appetite, as he would have contracted the disease for a few months prior to his death.

However, he was only diagnosed with tuberculosis after he was admitted into the Sungai Buloh hospital, and by then the disease had spread throughout his body.

“Why was the deceased not accorded timely and proper medical treatment when he first showed signs of prolonged or serious illness? Why was he only brought to the hospital a few days prior to his death?” Melissa questioned.

The family was also not informed that Proosothaman had been admitted to the hospital and only found out after a fellow patient alerted them, she added.

She also said the lapses in proper medical and quarantine procedures by the prison in Proosothaman‘s case are in breach of the Prison Act 1995 and the Prisons Regulations 2000 that require seriously ill prisoners to be admitted to hospital and for prisoners with contagious diseases to be treated and quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease.

“All prisoners must not be treated as less deserving human beings and deprived of proper medical treatment just because they are prisoners.

“The Home Ministry and the Prisons Department must accept responsibility for Proosothaman’s death as it was entirely preventable,” she said.

This is also a serious public health issue which must be dealt with by the Health Ministry, as well as the Prisons Department, due to the risk of exposure to the disease by the other prisoners, prison wardens and even family members who came into contact with the deceased, she said.

“A prison detention should not become a death sentence by a deadly disease due to apathy, negligence or a 'couldn’t care less' attitude by the Prisons Department.

“The Pakatan Harapan government must also take this issue seriously in line with their commitment to prevent all custodial deaths,” Melissa said. 

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