‘Brutal’ arrest: Memo for the IGP

By Teoh El Sen, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Nearly 100 people gathered outside the federal police headquarters at Bukit Aman here this morning to hand over a memorandum protesting the arrest and detention of K Selvach Santhiran, a key witness in the inquest into the custodial death of R Gunasegaran.

The protesters, who starting gathering at about 10am, included Selvach Santhiran’s wife and relatives as well as opposition politicians Charles Santiago (Klang MP), R Sivarasa (Subang MP), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor MP), Gan Pei Nee (Rawang assemblywoman) and lawyers Latheefa Koya and N Surendran.

NGOs Lawyers for Liberty and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) handed over the memorandum to a police representative on behalf of the family. The memorandum demanded that the Inspector-General of Police immediately release Selvach Santhiran and issue a public apology to him and his family.

“The continuing descent of the police force into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the beating and ‘abduction’ of Selvach Santhiran by men in plainclothes who claimed to be police but did not properly identify themselves,” said Surendran, the lawyer for Selvach Santhiran’s family.

“We see so many people gathered here because (they are angry at) the brutal manner of his arrest, especially on the same day the inquest was concluded. It seems to be an act of revenge,” said Surendran.

He added that since an appeal was pending on the inquest, the police actions could be regarded as contempt of court as well as abuse of power.

Meanwhile, the crowd was shouting slogans and holding up placards while demanding to know the whereabouts of Selvach Santhiran.

Surendran said police later told them that Selvach Santhiran was detained under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.

“At first, the police tried to shoo us away but we said we will not leave until they told us where Selvach Santhiran was. They finally told us his whereabouts. This is wrong. They should have told the family on the first day,” he said.

“When Selvach Santhiran was arrested with Gunasegaran, he tested negative for drugs and he was never arrested until now. Why now?”

Surendran claimed that Selvach Santhiran, who was a witness in the death of Gunasegaran in police custody, should be protected and not punished.

The memorandum also urged the IGP to:

  • take stern disciplinary action, including criminal prosecution, against the policemen who allegedly assaulted and arrested Selvach Santhiran;
  • stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under the preventive detention laws;
  • respect the rights of the people to unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times
  • support the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission to function as an independent and external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
  • require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation cards when using their powers; and,
  • support human rights education and training programmes, with a view to changing the attitudes and methods of the law enforcement personnel.

On Oct 25, a group of men claiming to be policemen came to Selvach Santhiran’s house and allegedly handcuffed him in front of his wife and children before asking her to give him a kiss.

They then allegedly took Selvach Santhiran outside before beating him up.

When questioned by his wife, the men hurled verbal abuses at her before briefly flashing a card claiming they were policemen.

Selvach Santhiran was one of the witnesses in the inquest who had testified against the police, claiming that the lawmen had injured Gunasegaran while in custody.