Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge VT Singham has backed the proposal to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) immediately, noting an increase in cases of death in custody.

"The recommendation of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) must not be kept in cold storage and allowed to freeze.

"It must be activated as soon as possible in order to assure all concerned members of society, including family members of deceased persons, that an independent agency is looking into the matter without any influence from the local police officers," Singham said.

The judge said in that even if the police investigated such deaths dutifully, it would still lack credibility.

azlanHe said this while reading out his two-hour long judgment on the civil suit against the government brought by the family of custodial death victim A Kugan (left). However, this observation is not legally binding.

Speaking to reporters later outside the courtroom, Padang Serai MP N Surendran said he would raise the issue in parliament and seek Home Minister Zahid Hamidi's response on the issue.

Earlier today, Zahid told the Parliament that the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is the government's response to the RCI's recommendation.

"In delivering judgments in public interest cases, judges often take a view on things that ought to be remedied, and that kind of view should be given close attention and weight by the authorities, particularly the government.

"This view carries great weight, because it is from an independent judge in the High Court. The government should immediately pay attention to it," said Surendran, who had also testified for the case's plaintiff, Indra Nallathamby.
'Cover-up attempted'
On another issue, the judge found that the police had attempted to cover up Kugan's true cause of death.

NONEAt this juncture, Singam commended Surendran's (right) efforts to arrange a second post mortem for Kugan, or and the truth would have been ‘swept under the blue carpet'.

He said the second defendant, then constable V Navindran, could not have singlehandedly inflicted 44 injuries on Kugan in a single incident on Jan 16, 2009.

Instead, it must have occurred throughout the course of his detention involving several police officers, and Navindran's testimony that he had been made a scapegoat should not be taken lightly.

In addition, he said the police station's daily log could not have recorded that Kugan was ‘fine' despite at least one officer witnessing the beatings, without the knowledge of his superiors, noting that there was no disciplinary action against him.

"In the circumstances, on the factual matrix of the present case, this court is not persuaded that there is no cover up on the cause of the deceased's death.

"There is a chain of evidence to draw inference on the balance of probabilities that it was not only the second defendant who inflicted grievous injuries on the deceased," the judge said.

NONESingham also dismissed then Selangor police chief (now inspector-general of police) Khalid Abu Bakar's (left) claims that there was no cover up.

"If the first defendant (Khalid) is genuinely intended to be transparent in his actions and there was no cover-up, as he seems to be repeatedly saying in the media, surely he should be the first person to initiate detailed investigations to inquire into the deceased's death, and not wait until the plaintiff lodges a police report," he said.

In addition, among others, the judge took issue to the Khalid's move to ‘unilaterally' open investigations under Section 330 of the penal code (causing hurt to extort a confession) although it should have been investigated under Section 302 (murder) or at least Section 304 (manslaughter).

He also questioned Khalid for not correcting his initial statements that Kugan had died of pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in lungs), despite a second post mortem revealing that Kugan had died of a kidney failure caused by the injuries from his beatings.

However, the judge repeatedly stressed that his judgement should not be construed as an indictment against the entire police force.

It was only the defendants and several others who are on trial, not the force, which still has diligent police officers, he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Surendran said the judgement makes Khalid's position as IGP ‘untenable'.

"If he had any sense of shame, he would resign immediately as a consequence of this judgement, although I don't think he would," he said.