KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) announced today it has formed a task force to investigate the lock-up death of an alleged banana thief at the Bera district police headquarters in Pahang.
EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said the investigation was to see if the police had mishandled the detention procedures for Soh Kai Chiok, 49, resulting in his death.
“The individual[s] found responsible for wrongdoings will also be made known,” Yaacob said in a statement.
He also said the EAIC viewed such matters seriously, adding that deaths in police custody should not happen as they tarnish the integrity and credibility of the authority.
He also urged authorities with lock-up cells not to take the detaining process of wrongdoers lightly and to adopt the improvement steps drafted by the commission.
Soh reportedly died on Wednesday from inflammation of the intestine while under police custody.
National newswire Bernama reported that the detainee was found unconscious in his cell at 12.15am January 18. Bera police chief DSP Mansor Samsudin was cited saying that post-mortem results showed ulcers the size of a 50-sen coin was found in Soh’s intestine.
Mansor reportedly said the police had followed all procedures including providing food, treatment and medication, as well as following the fixed sleeping hours.
The victim, he said, had previous records under Section 15 (1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and was detained for stealing bananas.
In 2013, the EAIC found police misconduct in the case of N. Dharmendran, 32, who died in detention.
According to the EAIC report, four policemen in charge of questioning Dharmendran had beaten up the victim, causing massive bleeding from blunt force trauma leading to his death. Evidence showed he even had staple wounds to his ears.
The EAIC found the police later fabricated evidence to cover up the violent interrogation and recommended disciplinary action.
The policemen were charged but acquitted at the High Court last year.
However, the victim’s widow won a separate civil lawsuit to claim damages for Dharmendran’s death from the policemen.