No signs of abuse, but cops accused of negligence in Thanabalan’s death


Source: Free Malaysia Today

Thanabalan Subramaniam, 38, was arrested late last month outside a school in Kapar, died in custody 20 days later. His family was told that he died of a heart attack. Image from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The post-mortem on Thanabalan Subramaniam, who died in police custody, could not confirm the cause of death but there were no signs that he was subject to any physical abuse, says incumbent Kapar MP G Manivannan.

Speaking to FMT, Manivannan said tissue and blood samples had been taken for further analysis to determine the cause of death.

Yesterday, Selangor police said they suspected that the centralised lock-up where the 38-year-old Thanabalan was being held had been contaminated by an infection.

“However, I believe there is an element of medical negligence on the part of the police as they should have ensured that Thanabalan received medical attention quickly,” Manivannan said.

Thanabalan, who was allegedly detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, died at Hospital Shah Alam on Tuesday after being rushed there from the Shah Alam police headquarters where he had been held for some 20 days.

His death led to questions by civil society groups on the police’s commitment to putting an end to custodial deaths.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen asked if the police had acted quickly enough to treat Thanabalan if he was indeed unwell.

“A healthy person does not just die suddenly unless he has a heart attack or something equally serious. If it was an infection, his health would’ve deteriorated over time.

“There are standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, but clearly these aren’t being followed, or else Thanabalan would have been given medical attention sooner.

“As long as police do not follow their own SOPs and are not answerable to an independent commission, custodial deaths will continue to happen.”

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy noted that this was the second custodial death this year, and the third after Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun became the country’s top cop last September.

“We don’t see any interest or will to end custodial deaths.

“We want to have a meeting with the police, Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and other civil societies on this matter.”

According to previous news reports, 1,654 people died in police custody from 2010 until February 2017.