Family of prisoner who died in prison wins suit against govt

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 13 Aug 2019

Lawyer M. Visvanathan speaking to Kamarulnizam’s family members after the decision at a High Court in Ipoh.

IPOH: The family of a general worker who died in the Tapah prison custody five years ago has won their civil suit against 12 individuals and the government.

Judicial Commissioner Anslem Charles Fernandis said in his judgement that the defendants were liable for the negligence that caused the death of Kamarulnizam Ismail.

He ordered that Kamarulnizam’s family be paid RM100, 000 for unlawful detention, RM50, 000 for misfeasance of public office, RM12, 000 for the cost of a full trial and RM2, 000 for funeral expenses.

Justice Anslem said when the Magistrate’s court in Bukit Mertajam sentenced him (Kamarulnizam) to 14 days’ jail after he could not pay the fine on March 4, 2014, the police kept him at the Seberang Prai police station lock-up for two days before transporting him to Tapah Prison on March 6.

The judge described the two-days in the police lock-up as unlawful detention because he agreed with the plaintiff that under Section 282 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it was mandatory whenever there was an order that police officers must act within a reasonable time to transport those found guilty to the prison, and not after two days.

“While at the prison, he was given medication for diarrhoea after the deceased complained of not being well.

“Knowing that the deceased was not well, the warden officers should have kept an eye on him, and be more vigilant towards a prisoner under their care, ” he added.

On the cause of death, Justice Anslem said he was agreeable with the pathologist's findings and post-mortem results that he had died of a lung infection.

Kamarulnizam’s mother Rahaya Salleh, 69, filed the suit through counsel M. Visvanathan against the parties in March 3, 2017.

In the statement of claim, they sought dependency, misfeasance of public office, aggravated, exemplary and special damages.

Kamarulnizam, a general worker at a sugar refinery factory in Penang, was arrested on Feb 13, 2014 under the Minor Offences Act for possessing stolen goods.

On March 4, when he pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined RM800 in default 14 days’ jail.

He could not pay the fine and was ordered to be sent to the Tapah prison where he died on March 7, 2014.

The family filed the suit, as they were unhappy with the cause of his death because there were injuries on the body of the deceased.

When met outside the court, Rahaya, who was in tears, said it was not about the money but she wanted justice for her son.

Kamarulnizam’s older brother Kamarulzaman, 51, said the family was not happy with the judgement that his brother died of a lung infection, as there were injuries to his body.

Visvanathan said the family would file for an appeal as they were not happy that the dependency claim was not awarded.

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