Kugan died of natural causes, no foul play

(The Star) – Suspected car thief A. Kugan died from acute congestion of the lungs due to acute inflammation of the heart muscles, compounded by blunt force trauma, an independent committee of medical specialists has announced.

The 10-man committee formed to investigate into differences in two post-mortem reports on Kugan unanimously agreed there was no evidence of thermal injuries to the skin on the back of the deceased as reported in the second post-mortem and was of the opinion the injuries on Kugan’s back were the result of repeated trauma by a blunt but flexible object, like a folded rubber hose.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the deceased was found to have an underlying acute myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle) and the blunt force trauma could have led to acute renal failure.

“This (renal failure) had aggravated the acute myocarditis, resulting in acute pulmonary oedema or lung congestion. As for injuries on Kugan’s back, they were in fact patterned imprint injuries which had been caused by a blunt and flexible object.

Special probe: Dr Ismail announcing the findings of the independent committee at his office in Putrajaya Monday.

“There was no evidence that the deceased had been ‘branded’ or given repeated application of heat with an instrument or object. All body injuries noted on the deceased were insufficient, either individually or collectively to cause death directly,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Dr Ismail said it was also concluded that the discrepancy was not due to “foul reporting, misleading of information and neither was there any intention to hide information”, adding that the findings would be handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers today.

Kugan, 22, was detained by police on Jan 15 this year for alleged car theft but died five days later while in police custody.

An autopsy was performed on Jan 21 by the head of Serdang Hospital forensic unit, Dr Abdul Karim Tajuddin, who gave the cause of death as “acute pulmonary oedema”.

The family then requested Universiti Malaya Medical Centre to conduct a second post-mortem, which was performed on Jan 25 by Dr Prashant Samberkar. The second pathologist gave the provisional cause of death (pending toxicology report) as “acute renal failure due to rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream) due to blunt trauma to skeletal muscles”.

“The discrepancy in the reports were due to the absence of communications between the two pathologists, the misinterpretation of post-mortem changes and some of the injuries by the second pathologist (Dr Prashant) ,” he said.