Malaysian Bar renews call for IPCMC after Balamurugan’s custodial death

Counsel N. Surendran speaks to the family of S. Balamurugan at the High Court in Shah Alam February 15, 2017. — Bernama pic
Counsel N. Surendran speaks to the family of S. Balamurugan at the High Court in Shah Alam February 15, 2017. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — The Malaysian Bar demanded today for the establishment of the long-proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) after the latest death in custody case.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru expressed outrage that none of the police officers at the North Klang district police headquarters, who are under investigation over S. Balamurugan’s death, have been suspended or arrested after a second autopsy purportedly confirmed that the 44-year-old had suffered multiple beatings in police custody.

“The IPCMC is a crucial first step, and the only way in which the rogue elements in the police force can be identified, isolated and held accountable for their misconduct and criminal acts,” Steven said in a statement.

He also said it was shocking that Balamurugan was not released nor given medical attention when the magistrate’s court denied the police’s application for remand on February 7 and instructed the investigating officer to take the man to the hospital immediately.

Balamurugan was found dead at the North Klang district police headquarters the next day.

“This defiance smacks of brazen disrespect for the court and a blatant disregard for the welfare of a person in police custody, who was apparently in obvious need of medical treatment.  

“Such misconduct warrants stern action by the court, to deter police officers from flagrantly ignoring the directions of the court. The police cannot be permitted to behave as if they are a law unto themselves,” said Steven.

Balamurugan’s lawyer reportedly said that his client had bruises on his face, was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and had vomited blood during the remand hearing.

Lawyers representing Balamurugan’s family said last Sunday that the alleged beatings Balamurugan received in police custody had triggered heart failure.

A royal commission proposed in 2005 for the formation of the IPCMC, but it has yet to be set up.