Kugan’s death classified as murder

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

The controversy over the death of a suspect in police custody escalated today after Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail classified the case as murder.

The announcement in Putrajaya this afternoon by the attorney-general came even as the family of the deceased demanded a second autopsy while dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters here today.

Abdul Ghani's decision will go some way to calm growing unhappiness among Indians over what is a being seen as police victimisation and discrimination against the community.

Suspected car thief A Kugan, 22, died five days after being arrested by police in Subang Jaya this week, and his family is claiming he was tortured in a case which has set off an emotional response from an Indian community which has grown suspicious of alleged police victimisation.

Kugan's family was accompanied to Bukit Aman today by Indian politicians from both the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the Barisan Nasional (BN), in an indication of growing disenchantment with police handling of the cases involving Indian suspects.

Last week, six policemen were charged in court for causing hurt to another criminal suspect, also from the Indian community.

Photographs of Kugan's body taken by his family who had stormed into a government mortuary after his death showed a number of bruises and cuts, and they have been widely distributed over the Internet, further inflaming the controversy.

While Kugan's family handed over a memorandum addressed to the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan demanding a second autopsy, some 50 protesters, mostly Indian, gathered in the carpark outside Bukit Aman.

In Tamil, they chanted "we will fight, we will fight till the end," while holding up banners showing the photographs of Kugan taken at the mortuary.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had earlier called for an independent body to be established to investigate the death.

The government will be under pressure now to ensure an independent and credible probe into what happened to ensure the controversy does not spark more friction between the Indian community and the police.

This case could also put the police under pressure to accept the need for widespread reforms.