KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — A Yemen citizen has launched a lawsuit to claim RM2.61 million in compensation from the Malaysian government, police, immigration and prison authorities for what he claimed as unlawful arrest and torture here in 2017.
In the lawsuit filed August 22, Ali Hussein Al-Rassas named then inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, the Commissioner-General of Prisons, then Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, and the Malaysian government as respondents
In his statement of claim, Ali Hussein, now aged 32, said he had been a student at a university in Cyberjaya with a valid student pass until March 12, 2017, when he was arrested on February 26, 2017 by the police at the compound of the condominium in Cyberjaya where he was staying.
He claimed to have been beaten during the arrest and said he had rejected allegations of being involved in terrorism and an alleged plot to assassinate Saudi’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud during the latter’s planned visit to Malaysia, noting that he also refused to confess.
He said he was transported with his vision blocked and hands bound behind his back to the Bukit Aman police headquarters, claiming to have been then detained there isolated in a small and dirty cell for 31 days from February 26 to March 28, 2017.
He claimed that the cell was cold and brightly-lit and that he was unable to sleep for the first 12 days there, and that he developed a skin disease and suffered a mental and emotional breakdown, while also suffering weight loss of 25kg from his initial weight of 65kg to 40kg after the detention.
He said he was not allowed to wear a watch and did not know when it was night or day, but could only tell the date whenever he was being interrogated.
Ali Hussein claimed to have been interrogated regularly in lengthy sessions at Bukit Aman when he was allegedly hit on his face, back and head as well as kicked in purported attempts to extract his confession.
Ali Hussein claimed he was only allowed three visits during the detention, by a Yemen embassy official a few days after his arrest, a Saudi Arabian representative after about 17 days who interrogated him on the alleged assassination plot, and the chairman of the local Yemen community after about 29 days.
He claimed he was not allowed to contact any family member, friend or lawyer until March 27, 2017, when he was permitted to contact his father.
Ali Hussein claimed that he was not brought to court throughout his detention and that he was only produced before a magistrate on March 28, 2017 after 30 days of arrest, and that he was then sent for detention at Sungai Buloh.
He claimed to have been placed in four different cells throughout his detention in Sungai Buloh from March 28, 2017 to May 9, 2017 and that no investigation was carried out during this period, describing one of the cells to be dirty and crammed with about 200 detainees and having mice and lack of clean water.
He said he was not allowed to contact any lawyers during the Sungai Buloh detention, and that he was produced on April 17, 2017 before a magistrate with a lawyer acting for him as arranged by a friend, and that the magistrate had allowed his further detention as Bukit Aman had yet to return his passport to Sungai Buloh.
Ali Hussein said he was again produced before a magistrate on May 9, 2017 and that he was sent to Putrajaya immigration camp as his passport had arrived.
He claimed that he was kept in a cramped and dirty cell at the Putrajaya Immigration Camp from May 9 to May 24, 2017 without any investigations carried out and with no contact with lawyers allowed, and that he was on May 24, 2017 taken handcuffed to the airport and deported via a Sudan-bound flight without any charges brought against him.
In his lawsuit filed last week at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Ali Hussein wants the courts to make a declaration that he was subjected to “torture, and to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” as defined under the two international agreements of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
He also wants the court to declare that such treatment violated the Federal Constitution’s Articles 5 and 7, while also seeking for general damages to be paid by the then IGP over the alleged defamatory press statement describing him as a terrorist during his detention.
Ali Hussein also listed 23 itemised points for millions in ringgit in compensation that he was claiming for from the Malaysian government and the others sued, including for distress suffered, refusal of access to lawyers, alleged breach of the Federal Constitution, and his alleged unlawful and unconstitutional detention.
Ali Hussein’s lawyer Arun Kasi said his client case will come up in the Kuala Lumpur courts or the first case management on September 10, 2019.
In a statement, Arun said it is a “serious violation” of the Federal Constitution’s Article 5 if a detainee is not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
Arun is also representing Singaporean man Puis Gilbert Louis, who recently filed a lawsuit to claim RM2.67 million in compensation over his 37-day detention by local immigration authorities and to seek a similar declaration that cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and torture is prohibited by the Federal Constitution via Articles 5 and 7.