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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The custodial death of S Balamurugan should be classified as murder and investigated immediately, lawyer for the victim’s family demanded today.
N Surendran and Latheefa Koya who are representing Balamurugan’s family also said there is no need for an inquest as the 44-year-old died while under police custody at its North Klang headquarters earlier this week instead of being released immediately according to a magistrate’s order when a remand application was rejected.
“In view of the clear facts, there is no need for any inquest to be held into Balamurugan’s death. Instead, there should be a swift criminal investigation and consequent prosecutions,” they said in a joint statement.
“Whilst section 334 of the CPC states that a Magistrate must hold an inquiry in cases of death in custody, section 333(3) provides that an inquest becomes unnecessary once criminal proceeding are instituted,” the lawyers added, referring to the Criminal Procedure Code.
They also pushed for the immediate suspension of all police personnel involved in the case pending investigations, adding that arrests should be made if required.
Surendran and Latheefa also questioned the police on their delay in following the magistrate’s order for Balamurugan’s release and for the detainee to be taken to the hospital for treatment.
They pointed out that both Balamurugan’s family and another lawyer Gerard Lazarus who had represented the detainee during the remand hearing had separately filed police reports after seeing bruises on his body, adding that there might have prior assault.
The Malaysian Human Rights Commission also announced yesterday that its preliminary investigation of the case showed that the police had breached Standard Operating Procedure prior to Balamurugan’s death by not bringing him to the Shah Alam district police headquarters to be kept in a lock-up after 6pm.
The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission is also investigating the case separately for potential police misconduct, noticing there has been a number of custodial deaths nationwide.