In solidarity with the family of Gunasegaran, death in custody No. 1805

Posted on December 18, 2013

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many-colours-one-dream

Under the Bodhi Tree

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The decision in the civil suit brought by the sister of the late Gunasegaran a/l Rajasundram is to be announced on the 19.12.2013.

Madam Ganga Gouri a/p Rajasundram had initiated this suit against the police and the Government of Malaysia for the wrongful death of Gunasegaran on the evening of 16.7.2009 at the hands of the police at the Sentul Polis Station.

Some may remember the 16.7.2009 as the day that the body of the late Teoh Beng Hock was also found.

The civil suit by Madam Ganga Gouri had been completed without any of the fanfare of some other trials.

Perhaps many had forgotten about this case.

In pursuit of justice in this case, the family of the deceased had applied to the High Court for an inquest to be held in the death at the Coroner’s court. The Coroner after a lengthy inquest process that took almost a year to be completed, returned an open verdict. This was so despite there being witnesses who testified that they saw the police beating Gunasegaran to death.

It is an amazing  fact in this case that the police to date have yet to file a single police report as to the death of Gunasegaran. Their reason for not doing so: “He didn’t die in police custody. He died in the Hospital!”

There are many other glaring omissions, instances of abuse of power and even outright lies told in court as to how Gunasegaran met his death on the evening of 16.7.2009.

Dissatisfied with the decision, the family pursued the matter in the High Court on revision. The High Court in maintaining the Coroner’s “open verdict”, made an affirmative finding that the police had actually beaten the late Gunasegaran prior to his death and such beatings possibly led to his death. The High court went further to say that the deceased may also have died from an overdose of drugs. The High Court also made a recommendation that in future like cases, police officers from the same police station should not investigate such deaths as was done in this case. At this point it is certainly doubtful if such recommendation has ever been taken heed by the police.

The deceased’s family then made an application to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against the High Court’s decision. Sadly leave was not granted by a majority decision (2-1) for such an appeal to be ventilated. It is a rather strange situation that we have in Malaysia that for an offence like rape, robbery and cheating, one gets an automatic right to appeal to the Court of Appeal. However a question as to the HOW, WHERE, WHEN and WHY someone died in police custody gets no such privilege. Perhaps sadly to die in a police station here in Malaysia means that the deceased had been proven to be “guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt” in the eyes of the law?

The decision in the civil suit (21NCVC-168-07/2012) against the Police, Kuala Lumpur Hospital and the Government of Malaysia is to be delivered by YA Datin Yeoh Wee Siam at the KL High Court (NCVC court, fourth floor) at 9.00 am on the 19.12.2013.

Should you think that deaths in custody to be wrong and must never occur again, please do attend court on the 19.12.2013. Your presence in court would surely go a long way to making your voice heard that custodial deaths would not be tolerated. Your presence would also go a long way to ensure that the much needed reforms like the IPCMC is finally implemented in Malaysia. No civilized nation can ever call itself a truly civilized nation if custodial deaths continue to happen unabated.