BATU GAJAH, March 27 — Police will call for an inquest into the carbamate poisoning case here that killed a 47-year-old woman and hospitalised 32 others.
Batu Gajah police chief ACP Mohd Nasry Mohd Omar said police decided to recommend an inquest following a request from one of the victims’ family.
“They wanted the investigations to continue, as this particular victim had been severely traumatised by her experience.
“We will make recommendations for an inquest when we hand over the investigation papers to the deputy public prosecutor’s office,” he said.
Nasry said it would enable the victims or their loved ones to pursue legal recourse against the operator of the food stall.
The incident claimed the life of cashier Hawa Buyong, who succumbed to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – a brain injury caused by insufficient oxygen – on Wednesday night.
Hawa had reportedly lost consciousness after consuming food at the stall on March 4 and had been placed on a ventilator since she was admitted in Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital the same day.
On Thursday, Mohd Nasry said police would not be conducting any further investigations, as they did not find any criminal elements in the incident.
This, he said, was because Hawa’s death had been classified as sudden death.
Nasry also said investigations for potential negligence did not come under the police, and should be handled by health authorities.
Mystery still surrounds the circumstances that led to the contamination of the food.
The state Chemistry Department had found carbamate in the sambal used for nasi lemak, fried kuey teow, kuih bom and cucur badak.
A subsequent test found traces of the chemical on a knife, chopping board, laddle and food tray.
The operator of the stall, Jamaludin Saaid, 63, who was saddened by the incident, could not offer any answers as to how the food was contaminated.
He said he did not have pesticides at home and also dismissed speculation weedkiller was sprayed around his stall on the day of the incident.
Sarojeni Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, called for an investigation into how the food was contaminated.
She said there were many types of pesticides that contained carbamates, noting the importance of pinpointing the exact substance that caused the poisoning.
“The probe needs to be thorough. We need to know the type of pesticide and how it came into contact with the food.