PUTRAJAYA: The first day of the public hearing into the death of police detainee S Balamurugan turned into an emotional roller-coaster as his wife shared the last two days with her husband.
Natthanan Yoochomsuk, 38, said after Balamurugan’s detention on Feb 6 this year, she went to the Klang police station where she heard her husband screaming in pain while in the police lock-up.
She said police refused to let her meet her husband and she was not informed of the reason for his arrest.
“I recognised his voice. He was screaming in pain after policemen came (into the station).
“But the police told me to go home. But my husband’s brother, Kumar, told me to wait.
“We waited for about one to one-and-half hours till about 8.30pm,” she said through a Thai translator.
She was giving evidence at a public hearing by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) at its office here over the death of Balamurugan, 44, in a police lock-up. He was confirmed dead at 12.15am on Feb 8.
The hearing is chaired by EAIC chairman Yaacob Md Som.
Balamurugan’s family, Bar Council members, home ministry officials, Suhakam and police were present at the hearing.
On the morning of Feb 7, Natthanan and her husband’s family members went to the Shah Alam court where he was presented in front of the judge for remand.
“I saw my husband once in the court. He was walking to the toilet with a policeman. After that, I did not see him. I was told he was not under remand.”
It was reported earlier that the magistrate rejected Balamurugan’s remand after he vomited blood. This prompted the magistrate to deny remand and instead give an order for the detainee to be taken to hospital immediately.
However, Balamurugan was not taken to hospital.
After the court case, Natthanan went to the Klang Utara police station where she saw her husband sitting at the counter. She gave him food and ice lemon tea, she said.
“He did not look well. He looked as if he was down with a fever. He was very thirsty. He drank the ice lemon tea I brought from home but just took one bite of the home-cooked food.
“He is usually very chatty. But that day, he did not speak. When he drank the juice, I could see he was bleeding from his mouth,” said the teary-eyed wife.
That was the last she saw of him.
The meeting lasted about five minutes before she and her husband’s brother drove to their lawyer’s office for advice and to lodge a police report.
She said on her way back to the Klang Utara police station to meet her husband, she received a call from the police to meet the husband’s investigation officer at 9pm the same day.
“They said he was at the Shah Alam police station. Kumar, my husband’s cousin, and I returned home at 11pm after meeting the IO. The next day, there was a loud knock on the front door at 6am.”
She said that upon opening the door, she saw two policemen standing there. She said they told her that her husband was involved in an accident.
“They told me he was in hospital. I rushed to the hospital. I went to the emergency (ward) but couldn’t find him. I went to the hospital counter but they said there was no such person.
“I then went to the hospital police station. No one told me my husband had died,” she said, adding that she finally walked to the mortuary with her husband’s brother, Balraj, to check.
Natthanan, who has been married to Balamurugan for 11 years, said her husband underwent an angiogram five years ago.
Home ministry officials present at the hearing asked if her husband had informed her of his job. She said he repossessed cars and had later repaired tyres.
She told them he had a lot of friends who often visited him and he went out frequently.
The second witness, Balamurugan’s cousin sister, Noor Anizah Abdullah, 22, who lives with Balamurugan’s family, said she heard her cousin screaming in the Klang police station.
“I heard Balamurugan screaming and shouting like he was in a lot of pain. I was there with Balamurugan’s wife.”
She told the hearing that the police did not state the reason for his arrest.
She added her cousin only started screaming after five to six policemen were seen going into the police station.
She said her cousin was generally a healthy man except for the angiogram he underwent five years ago.
She said he was also in a healthy state when the police took him away.
On Feb 11, four days after Balamurugan’s death, Klang Utara district police chief ACP Mohd Yusoff Mamat said more than 10 policemen from the station were under investigation over the death.
Yusoff, however, said none of the policemen were suspended as investigations were ongoing.
Balamurugan’s family lodged a police report over his death and requested a thorough investigation to identify the cause of death.
The hearing continues tomorrow.