Ethnic Indian’s custody death causes Malaysian ministerial row

January 26th, 2009 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 26 (IANS) The death of an enthnic Indian youth in police custody Monday led to Malaysian ministers exchanging angry words as the second autopsy report was awaited, a media report said.Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said that nobody was above law and two ethnic Indian junior ministers would face action if they were found to have locked themselves up in a mortuary and taken photographs of the deceased.

Deputy Minister S.K. Devamany, one of the two ministers Albar referred to, Monday said the home minister “should stop making irrelevant statements” on the incidents relating to the death of police detainee A. Kugan, NST Online said.

Devamany said the minister should instead try to solve the matter at hand.

Kugan, 23, a suspected car thief, died during interrogation last Tuesday.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said the case was classified as murder as there were bruises on the body, while Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan said the police would conduct a thorough investigation.

A second post-mortem examination was conducted Sunday. Malaysian Indian ministers, lawmakers and community leaders were present at the hospital.

Kugan’s case has triggered protests from constituent parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and one of the ministers spoke to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Both deputy ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department - Senator T. Murugiah and S.K. Devamany - were said to have been at the hospital.

Both have claimed they received messages, asking them to go there.

On the larger issue of Indian representation, Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam, the senior-most among the ethnic Indians in the government, said he would ask the Cabinet to consider employing more Indians in the police force at all levels to combat the increasing crime rate among Indian youths.

He said this was necessary in the wake of the controversy surrounding the death of detainee A. Kugan while in police custody.

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