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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Police custody death sparks fresh uproar in Malaysia

Rights groups and political parties Wednesday demanded action against rogue police in Malaysia after a new autopsy revealed an ethnic Indian man died in police custody because of a beating.

A second post mortem examination on 22-year-old suspected car thief A. Kugan, released Tuesday, showed he died while being interrogated on January 20 from injuries consistent with being beaten. There were also a number of burn marks on his body.

The second autopsy contradicted the first, which found that Kugan died from fluid in his lungs.

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second largest party within the ruling coalition, said it was "outraged and horrified" by the incident.

"It is not up to the police to act as prosecutor, judge and executioner," MCA spokesman Wong Nai Chee said in a statement.

"The police force should reveal the results of their internal investigations and take the necessary action against their personnel," he added.

Eleven police officers allegedly involved in the case have been transferred to desk duties.

Rights group Voice of the Malaysian People (Suaram) condemned the incident, saying Kugan's case was not isolated. It said there were 85 deaths in police custody between 2003 and 2007.

"(It) severely undermines the credibility of the police and other enforcement officers in detention centres," Suaram coordinator Tan Moon Hui said in a statement.

But Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who oversees the police, hit out at critics who he said were taking political advantage of the situation, state news agency Bernama reported.

"This case has criminal implications and... has nothing to do with politics," Syed Hamid said Wednesday.

Kugan's death sparked an uproar among the Indian community, with more than 1,000 people attending his funeral.

Ethnic Indians, the majority of whom are descendants of labourers, were brought to Malaysia by British colonial rulers in the 1800s. They have complained they are marginalised in terms of education, wealth and opportunities.

Sumber: MSN

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