EAIC says Johor man’s 2014 death in custody was murder

File picture of lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (right) holding up a copy of Syed Mohd Azlan’s autopsy report while accompanying the victim’s parents, Sharifah Halilah Syed Sylaiman, 57, and Syed Muhamad Nur Ali, 67, at a news conference at the former’s office in Kuala Lumpur.
File picture of lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (right) holding up a copy of Syed Mohd Azlan’s autopsy report while accompanying the victim’s parents, Sharifah Halilah Syed Sylaiman, 57, and Syed Muhamad Nur Ali, 67, at a news conference at the former’s office in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — The use of physical violence by police during arrest and questioning was the cause of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur’s 2014 death in custody, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) said today.

According to the enforcement watchdog, its investigations also found attempts to obscure evidence from the 25-year-old’s interrogation that resulted in 61 separate injuries on various parts of his body.

The police officers involved also engaged in a “serious breach” of standard operating procedures concerning the handling of detainees, material seizure, and the integrity of statements.

“There was an element of crime in the attacks involving common intent or abetment by PDRM officers, including the arresting team, to intentionally use physical violence on the deceased to cause death or injury,” the EAIC said in a statement today.

It added that the action was a criminal offence, specifically under Section 302 and 325 of the Penal Code read with Section 34 of the same Act.

Section 302 pertains to murder while Section 325 involves voluntarily causing grievous bodily harm; Section 34 deals with voluntarily causing hurt.

The EAIC then recommended that the Attorney-General’s Chambers to prosecute the officers involved for the crimes identified in the agency’s investigations.

It added that it was regrettable that custodial deaths continue to occur repeatedly in the country, saying that the matter should be viewed seriously.

According to the EAIC’s investigations, Syed Mohd Azlan had been arrested on November 3, 2014 near Pengerang, Johor over possible involvement in an armed altercation involving two groups on September 14 the same year.

He had been detained by a team of 13 police officers and held at the Sungai Rengit police station, where he had been interrogated over the attack.

Syed Mohd Azlan was later transferred to the Kota Tinggi district police headquarters to be remanded, but died while in transit.

A post-mortem determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to his chest, while 61 defensive wounds were discovered on his face, torso, and both legs.