PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has called for an immediate and independent investigation and inquest into the death of A. Ganapathy in police custody.
The Bar also reiterated their call for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and Coroner's Act.
"This is a matter of great public concern and warrants the highest priority. A thorough and transparent investigation must be conducted in order to uncover the facts surrounding his death," Malaysian Bar president AG Kalidas said in a statement on Saturday (May 1).
Kalidas added that in times like these, the need for the formation of the IPCMC to act as an external and independent civilian oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel, cannot be overstated.
He adds that the current Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill proposed by the government lacks the bite to ensure genuine and independent transparency and accountability in the police force.
"It was reported that A. Ganapathy had spent 12 days in police custody before being released and was admitted to Selayang hospital.
"While the police have issued a statement that Ganapathy's cause of death was necrotising fasciitis of the right lower limb complicated with sepsis, it was reported that according to Ganapathy's lawyer, his autopsy report found that he had succumbed to injuries inflicted on his shoulders and legs.
"In a separate statement, the police have indicated that there is no evidence that he had been beaten while in custody," he added.
In addition to the IPCMC, the Bar also pushes for the introduction of an independent Coroners Act in relation to deaths under suspicious circumstances, said Kalidas.
"Such an Act would serve to strengthen the role of coroners through fundamental structural reforms, including the ability to supervise and direct comprehensive investigations to determine the cause of death and to provide greater clarity in its inquiry processes," he said, adding that there should be no further delay in the enactment of such a Coroners Act.
Kalidas adds that the formation of the IPCMC and the enactment of an independent Coroners Act would not only ensure essential transparent and accountable police force in our country, but also strengthen public confidence in the police.
"Custodial deaths and prison practices require root and branch reform of key aspects of our criminal justice system. The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to act decisively on this matter," he said.