EAIC: Amend laws to hold police responsible for custodial deaths

Chairman of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Datuk Yaacob Md Sam speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on N. Dharmendran custodial death, April 28, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Chairman of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Datuk Yaacob Md Sam speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on N. Dharmendran custodial death, April 28, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, April 28 — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Home Ministry should amend existing laws to hold the police responsible for any injury sustained by a detainee or custodial deaths, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) suggested today.

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said that police officers should have the “burden of proof” placed on them until proven otherwise to prevent deaths in custody like in the case of N. Dharmendran.

“The commission recommends that the AGC and the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) to amend the Penal Code (Act 574) and Evidence Act 1950 to provide for a provision of presumption that placed the burden of proof on the enforcement agencies personnel who has a custody of a detainee to be liable for any injury or death occurred on detainee (sic) while in custody, until proven otherwise,” he said during a press conference at the EAIC headquarters today.

This was after he presented a report on the May 2013 death of Dharmendran who was found to have been tortured and beaten to death while in police custody.

Currently, the Penal Code does not have a provision which specifically address injuries sustained by detainees or deaths while under police custody.

Section 101 of the Evidence Act 1950 states that the burden of proof lies with the accuser, in this case would be on Dharmendran’s lawyers to prove that the police did in fact beat him to death.

The EAIC report released earlier today revealed that Dharmendran was first tortured by officers of the Serious Crimes Division (D9) by stapling his ears before he succumbed to his injuries caused by blunt force trauma inflicted by the police officers.

The report also indicated that several police officers, including the then Deputy Head of Criminal Investigation Division SAC Khairi Ahrasa were responsible for falsifying and tampering with evidence in a bid to cover up the violent interrogation.

Dharmendran, 31, was detained on May 21 for the attempted murder of two people in Cheras.

Dharmendran complained of chest pains while he was locked up and collapsed at around 4.25pm on May 21. He was pronounced dead on arrival after being immediately sent to Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court initially acquitted the four police officers charged with the murder of Dharmendran but the Court of Appeal later ordered the four men to enter their defence this May.

Dharmendran’s death was one of the three deaths in custody in less than two weeks in May last year, prompting calls for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

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