PETALING JAYA: The widow of PhD student Thomas Orhions Ewansiha has called for an inquest into her husband's death while in Immigration custody.
The widow's lawyer, Sachpreetraj Singh Sohanpal, said that his firm has sent a letter to the coroner's court to look into the events leading up to Ewansiha's death.
"The full autopsy report is not out yet but based on our conversations with the pathologist and witnesses, who were in custody with Ewansiha, we believe there is a need for an inquest to be carried out," he said on Thursday (Aug 15).
The letter claimed that the deceased was beaten while in custody.
The letter also said that based on statements from his wife, Blessing Uhunoma Eriamiator and other witnesses, Ewansiha was denied medical care for the injuries he suffered.
"This caused his death," stated the letter.
Sachpreetraj also said that the Nigerian was held without proper cause as he had a valid visa during the time of his detention.
On July 4, Ewansiha was arrested and taken to the depot for background checks following a raid by the Immigration Department in Desa Aman Puri in Kuala Lumpur.
The 34-year-old, a father of two, was pursuing his PhD in management in Limkokwing University.
In a statement, the Immigration Department said that Ewansiha was arrested because he had tried to flee from its officers during the raid.
The raids were a result of complaints lodged against African nationals who were suspected of not having valid documents, the department said.
Residents had also alleged that the use of drugs, prostitution and public intoxication in the area had caused unrest among locals.
The department said his action had cause doubt on the authenticity of documents, and he was then detained for 14 days for further investigations.
"All the arrested detainees were then transported to the Kuala Lumpur Immigration Department office," said Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
Checks were conducted on Ewansiha and treatment was administrated for an old injury on his thigh.
He did not specify any pre-existing medical illnesses, according to Immigration.
All the detainees were then sent to the Bukit Jalil Depot at around noon on July 5.
"At around 12.05am on July 9, the officers on duty were told by the other detainees that the subject had had a seizure in his sleep.
"Immediate aid and medical checks were conducted and the hospital was contacted to assist as well.
"An ambulance from HUKM (Universiti Kebangsaan Hospital) as well as an assistant medical officer arrived at 12.30am and they had attempted to help the subject.
"However, he was then pronounced dead, " the statement said, adding that a police report was made on the matter.
His death sparked an outcry by his fellow countrymen, who staged a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.