KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Family members of a 35-year-old man who died while under remand at the Sungai Buloh prison last night urged the police today to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

V. Mugilarasu, a machine operator, had been awaiting a court hearing in August.

The family lodged a police report over the matter today, in which they said they were informed of his death last night.

Lawyers representing the family, Datuk Sheelan Arjunan and John Das, told Malay Mail they plan to seek an inquest into the death.

“As soon as possible,” said Das when asked when they intend to file the application to initiate the inquiry.

According to Das, Mugilarasu had been in remand since March 2019, with his case at the Shah Alam High Court originally scheduled to proceed on August 12.

When contacted, Sungai Buloh district police chief Supt Shafa’aton Abu Bakar confirmed the death and said the family’s stand may have been due to regulations introduced since the Covid-19 pandemic that barred them from viewing Mugilarasu’s body.

She explained that all deaths in custody required Covid-19 testing as a matter of course under orders from the Health Ministry before other procedures including a post-mortem examination.

Shafa’aton also said family members were not allowed to view the body until a negative Covid-19 test result was returned, as a precautionary measure.

“His family might not have been happy because they were not allowed to see his body, I was told as such that the deceased’s brother was unhappy that he was not allowed to see the body,” she said.

The family will be allowed to view the body after the test and a post mortem will also be conducted, she added.

“So there is nothing being concealed, maybe there was a misunderstanding; but I think the hospital has explained the situation to them, but maybe they don't want to accept it,” according to the officer.

She then reiterated that the procedure would be in place for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shafa’aton said in the event the deceased tests positive for Covid-19, contact tracing activities would commence, where authorities and health officials would visit the scene of the incident and even conduct tests on close contacts.