Kugan’s family demands apology
Lawyer N Surendran says the government must finally own up to what he claims was 'plain murder' and subsequent 'systematic cover-up' of the case.
UPDATEDPETALING JAYA: The family of A Kugan wants the government to apologise for his death. The 22-year-old died in police custody three years ago after being held over his alleged involvement in a car theft syndicate.
PKR vice-president N Surendran, the lawyer representing the family, said the guilty verdict meted out against a constable for causing hurt to Kugan showed that the police were responsible for his death.
Yesterday, Constable V Navindran, 31, was found guilty on two counts of causing hurt to Kugan. Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Aslam Zainuddin sentenced him to three years’ jail on each count, to be served concurrently.
Aslam ruled that Navindran’s defence, which was that the latter was not in the interrogation room during the incident, was a bare denial.
Navindran was accused of two alternative counts of causing hurt to Kugan at the interrogation room of the Taipan police station in USJ, Subang Jaya, at 7am and 4pm on Jan 16, 2009. He was initially acquitted of the charges in January 2011, but the High Court later overturned the acquittal, and ordered him to enter his defence.
Surendran said the government must finally own up to what he claimed was “plain murder” and subsequent “systematic cover-up” of the case, which only led to the charging of a single constable when “more policemen of higher rank were involved”.
“The outcome and verdict yesterday were the culmination of three and half years of a systematic, deliberated, concerted, evil effort to cover up by the police, government and attorney-general,” he said.
“With the sentence, although much lesser than what we expected, it at least proves that the police are responsible for Kugan’s death. We ask for an apology for the murder and subsequent cover- up by the government,” he told reporters here.
‘Take back the accusations’
Surendran said until today, there had been no effort by the government to apologise and instead more accusations were levelled against Kugan.
“We also ask the government to take back those accusations that he is a criminal, robber and so on. No court has ever found him guilty of those alleged crimes. These things have caused the family so much pain,” he added.
Instead, the “biggest criminals”, said Surendran, were the “top leadership of the police”.
Also present at the press conference was Kugan’s mother N Indra. With tears flowing, she could only speak a few words when reporters approached her later.
“No point saying sorry now, if you ask for forgiveness after so long, I won’t know if it’s genuine. I just want those involved to be sentenced,” she said.
“He was a very hardworking boy. A mechanic, he fixed tyres. He never fell sick. I can’t believe that he became sick [and died]. It must have been the injuries,” added the 43-year-old woman.
Kugan’s aunt, S Renuga, 34, said: “We are not at all happy with the court’s decision. My nephew was tortured and three years is what he [Navindran] he got? We want him to be charged with murder. We cannot let this go. We want the government to say sorry. Why was the case originally classified murder? What about the other policemen involved?”
The family asked that investigations be re-opened on the Kugan case to find out, among others, who was the one who gave the instructions to torture Kugan.
Surendran said the case could only be resolved if there is a “serious and independent” investigation by a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
He also pointed out that the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission) is still non-existent.
“The inquiry must find out why the culprits are still free, how did such a torture happen, what sort of holes in the investigation procedures had caused someone to die this way. Most of all, we need a guideline that says that an internal inquiry is a must whenever such deaths occur.”
He said that PKR will continue to campaign for justice over what he described as “the nation’s worst murder in custody”.
He said that a nationwide roadshow would be held until the government meets the family’s demands.
Surendran listed the stages where the alleged cover-up occurred:
“First, when he [Kugan] was found, the report stated that he had suffered from breathing difficulties. There was no mention of any beatings eventhough it was clear from the graphic images that his body was crisscrossed with beating marks and not an inch was spared.”
“Second, the then Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar [now the Deputy Inspector-General of Police] also stated that Kugan asked for water, collapsed and died. He later said that the water in lungs was the cause of [his] death. These were outright lies.”
” Third, the first post-mortem by Dr Abdul Karim Tajuddin [who was reprimanded by the Malaysian Medical Council for failing to conduct a proper examination and prepare an honest report] stated that the cause of death was pulmonary edema, which contradicted a second post-mortem carried out by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre pathologist Dr Prashant N Samberker, which stated blunt force trauma and kidney failure were the cause of death.”
“Fourth, the Attorney-General refused to prosecute anyone for nine months. And when someone was charged, it was for a small offence of causing hurt, despite the fact that he died.
“Fifth, the government subsequently attacked Kugan and his family, claiming that he was a car thief.”
“Sixth, only one person was charged. How could Kugan be systematically tortured by one person for six days without other policemen knowing it? It’s impossible.”
On Jan 14, 2009, Kugan, from Puchong, was arrested to facilitate investigations into a luxury car theft syndicate. Six days later, he was dead.
Family members and opposition politicians who stormed the mortuary found Kugan’s body riddled with severe lacerations. A video clip of this was uploaded on the Internet and sparked off national outrage.
The first post-mortem concluded that Kugan had died as a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs.
Dissatisfied, the family commissioned a second post-mortem, which revealed that the deceased was burnt, beaten and starved during detention.
The case was then reclassified as murder and 11 rank-and-file policemen were transferred to desk duty at the Selangor police headquarters over this case. However, only Navindran was charged with Kugan’s death.
On Jan 13 this year, Kugan’s mother filed a civil suit against the government and four other individuals seeking seeking RM100 million in damages.