Family cries foul over detainee’s death


police guardoriginally published: 15th June 2009
all credits: New Straits Times

The death of another man in police custody yesterday had the deceased’s family crying police brutality.

A. Gnanaprakasam, 53, was found dead near the toilet inside his cell at the Damansara police station, five days after he was picked up while allegedly trying to break into a house in Sungai Buloh. District police chief Assistant Commissioner Arjunaidi Mohamed said a guard found the body, which had no visible injuries, while doing his rounds at 8.05am.

“So far, we’ve found no elements of foul play in his death. However, we will wait for the post-mortem report from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to find out the cause of death. “I urge all parties to please not speculate on this incident and let us carry out our investigations,” he said at the district police headquarters yesterday.

He added that police had questioned Gnanaprakasam’s four cell-mates, who were asleep when he was found dead. “We will also question officers and personnel who were involved in the deceased’s case,” said Arjunaidi, adding that the deceased had nine previous offences on his criminal record, mainly drug-related.

Gnanaprakasam, a wiring contractor, had also once been held at the Simpang Renggam detention centre. Earlier, however, Gnanaprakasam’s wife M. Manimatalai claimed he had been assaulted by police. Speaking at the UMMC mortuary, she claimed her husband had a black eye when she saw him last. She said Gnanaprakasam had called her on Wednesday to tell her he was on his way to do a wiring job for which he had been hired.

When he did not return home that day, they searched for him at hospitals and police stations and eventually found out he had been arrested and was being held at the Damansara Damai police station.

“My eldest daughter and I met my husband at around 2.30pm on Friday and noticed his right eye was blue-black, but he still looked healthy.” She claimed she was told by a policeman handling the case that her husband had complained to a magistrate while he was taken under remand that he had been assaulted by police.

The family only received a call about 12.20pm yesterday, when they were asked to identity Gnanapraksam’s body at the UMMC mortuary.

On allegations by the deceased’s family of police brutality, Arjunaidi said they (family) should have lodged a report about their claim immediately after learning about it.

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