‘Culture of impunity’ : People keep dying in Malaysian police custody

Legal police witnesssource: SBS News
published: 8 November 2018

For Balraj Suppiah the pain of losing his brother in 2017 is made all the more difficult by the brutality of his death. S. Balamurugan, 44, was arrested on suspicion of car robbery and was allegedly beaten badly by police officers while in custody.

A postmortem found 20 blunt force trauma injuries had been inflicted on Mr Balamurugan’s head, abdomen and limbs.

When he appeared in court, he began coughing up blood and the judge ordered he be released to hospital. But police ignored the ruling and returned him to a cell where he was found dead the next morning.

“We saw him in the morgue and we saw that he was really badly damaged,” Balraj told SBS News. No one has been convicted over his death.

It is just one of 143 deaths in police custody in the ten years from 2008 until 2018. The incidents have shone a light on a police force many say is in desperate need of reform.

Dobby Chew, from Malaysian human rights advocacy group Suaram, said that a culture of non-liability persists among the country’s police force.

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