Probe sought in ethnic Indian’s custody death in Malaysia

January 25th, 2009 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 25 (IANS) Three parties of Malaysia’s ruling coalition Barisan Nasional have called for thorough investigation into the death of an ethnic Indian while in police custody.The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Gerakan pressed for “swift action for greater transparency and accountability on the part of the government”, The Star newspaper said Sunday.

The MCA sought an independent autopsy to be carried out to determine A. Kugan’s cause of death while the MIC demanded an independent committee to investigate the death.

Gerakan called on the government to review the interrogation procedures of enforcement agencies.

“The MCA is aghast over the extent of injuries on the body of Kugan, who collapsed and died while in police custody,” said MCA central committee member Wong Nai Chee, lauding Attorney-General Abdul Ghani Patail’s decision to classify Kugan’s death as murder.

Kugan died in the Taipan police station in USJ, Subang Jaya, after being arrested Wednesday on suspicion of being involved in a car theft syndicate.

An angry crowd of ethnic Indians broke into the prison mortuary, moved Kugan’s body and took photographs that are now circulating on the Internet.

MIC deputy president G. Palanivel, who called for an independent committee of eminent people to investigate the death, said transparent action by the governĀ­ment would bring back public confidence in the police.

In calling for a review of interrogation procedures, Gerakan deputy president Chang Ko Youn said this was to ensure that the use of excessive force was not allowed or condoned.

A commentary in The Star said: “Although a minority, the Malaysian-Indian poor are blamed, rightly or wrongly, for most of the violent crimes in the country. Study after study has shown a direct correlation between crime and poverty, marginalisation and alienation and it is no surprise if Indian involvement in crime is higher compared to other communities.”

“Consequently, the percentage of Indians in prison, police lock-ups and in police statistics are higher than others when compared to their population size of below eight percent.

“In some depressed regions of the country like Padang Serai in Kedah, Klang and Kapar in Selangor and Muar in Johor, where Indians predominate, the situation resembles a war zone with higher violence and disrespect for the law. Rape, murder, gang fights and contract killings are commonplace and people just have to live with it.”

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