KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14, 2015:

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has chided the police for classifying the death of yet another detainee recently as “sudden death”.

The human rights organisation said this “excuse” had repeatedly been used by police to cover up the real causes of custodial deaths, as was the case with the death of a detainee in Johor Baru last week.

In a statement, Suaram cited the recent case on Jan 8, where a suspected drug offender died in police custody after complaining of a stomach ache.

“The 31-year-old was in remand since Jan 4 and was being investigated under Section 3(1) of the Drug Addicts Act 1983.

“He complained of a stomach ache on Jan 7 and was sent to Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru, where he received outpatient treatment and sent back to the lock-up. The next day, he complained of a stomach ache again and the paramedics were called to take him back to the hospital, but the man died upon arrival,” Suaram activist Tarmizi Anuar said in a statement today

The case was classified as sudden death by Johor CID chief Datuk Hasnan Hassan while both the coroner and pathologist who examined the body and scene stated there were no external injuries spotted on the man.

“The ‘sudden death’ excuse is illogical when the deceased had admitted that he was suffering from a stomach ache.

“Suaram urges the police to reveal the real reason or cause of death,” he said.

Tarmizi noted that a similar incident took place in November last year, involving the custodial death of Syed Mohd Azlan, also in Johor.

While his death was also classified as sudden death, a post-mortem revealed that Syed had died of blunt force trauma to the chest.

Tarmizi said Suaram recorded 14 custodial deaths throughout last year and from 2005 to 2014, there were a total of 111 deaths in detention.

“Until today, the government has yet to set up an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

“This shows that the government is not serious in curbing police misconduct,” said Tarmizi.

He added the matter was serious as it involved the integrity of the police who were responsible of ensuring the safety and health of every detainee.

Suaram had urged that an independent body be set up soon to ensure that these deaths were investigated with integrity.

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