Sep 13, 10
The coroner’s court today was told that the blame for R Gunasegaran’s death in custody fell squarely on the police for their “actions and omissions”.
Counsel M Visvanathan, who is representing Gunasegaran’s family, claimed that the police had “expedited” Gunasegaran’s death by assaulting him while he was in detention and failing to provide him emergency first aid when he collapsed.
Visvanathan (left) added that the police officers involved in the case had failed in carrying out their duties, accusing them of refusing to act on information that they gathered from witnesses’ statements.
“It appears as if there is a conspiracy among several parties in this case to keep the truth behind Gunasegaran’s death from surfacing,” he said in his submission at the inquest.
Visvanathan went further by accusing the six police witnesses of lying to the court and giving statements that contradicted each other on numerous issues.
He maintained that Gunasegaran died from a large injury measuring nearly a foot long and five centimetres deep on his chest caused by a kick allegedly made by Lans Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib, and not due to a drug overdose as claimed by deputy public prosecutor Shashitah Mohamad Hanifa.
Gunasegaran, 31, who was arrested on a drug charge, collapsed while being fingerprinted at the facility between 6.45pm and 7pm while in police custody and was pronounced dead at 7.40pm on July 16 at Kuala Lumpur Hospital last year.
The police said in its official findings that Gunasegaran died due to drug abuse.
Visvanathan however agreed with Shahsitah’s argument that the police officers involved had abused their powers and failed to follow procedure when carrying out their duties.
Officers were lax
Shahsitah earlier contended that the officers involved had failed to file a report on Gunasegaran’s arrest as required, neither have they filed a report to this day on Gunasegaran’s death in custody.
She added that the officers who detained Gunasegaran and four others in an anti-crime raid on July 16 last year did not make any notes in their pocket books.
The list went on with a clear violation of procedure when they recorded statements from the detainee witnesses at 2.30am and also contradictions between what was written in the station diary and the testimony of the officers regarding the time of the raid.
Earlier when taking the stand, Sergeant Major Rajinder Singh shot down an entry in the Sentul police station diary which recorded that the operation started at 3pm, saying that it was a mistake in the station diary while maintaining that the operation started at 5.30pm.
Shahsitah stressed that this failure to follow proper procedure shows a lack of responsibility among the officers involved and opened the police to “avoidable” accusations.
“However, what is clear is that the testimony of the experts must be considered by the court and it is difficult for the court not to accept the testimony that the cause of death is drug-related,” she said.
Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin has set aside Oct 21 to present the court’s findings.