PUTRAJAYA, June 5 -The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) announced its maiden investigation today on the custodial deaths involving N. Dharmendran and R. Jamesh Ramesh, both of whom died in police custody recently.

EAIC chief executive Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar said today that the commission ― which investigates complaints of misconduct against the police and 18 other enforcement agencies ― set up a taskforce last Tuesday to probe the deaths of the two men.

“We won’t leave any stone unturned,” Nor Afizah Hanum (picture) told reporters at the EAIC office here today.

She stressed that the EAIC’s investigation was separate from the police’s probe into Dharmendran’s death that has led to murder charges against the police officers involved with the killing of the 32-year-old.

On Monday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the police officers who are under investigation for Dharmendran’s death would be suspended from active duty, 13 days after the latter was killed on May 21 while under remand at the city police contingent headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

A government hospital autopsy report on Dharmendran revealed the detainee had died from multiple beatings, triggering outrage from civil society activists and opposition leaders who pushed the authorities for swift action to prevent further deaths in custody.

Dharmendran was reportedly arrested on May 11 in connection with a shooting incident in Bandar Tun Razak.

Jamesh Ramesh died on May 26 while detained at the Penang police contingent headquarters.

Penang CID deputy chief ACP Nasir Mohd Salleh reportedly said last week that a post-mortem showed the 40-year-old had died from liver failure.

Nor Afizah Hanum said today that the EAIC was empowered under Section 28 of the EAIC Act 2009 to investigate Dharmendran’s and Jamesh Ramesh’s deaths on its own initiative, without waiting for complaints to be lodged.

“This is the first investigation into deaths in custody because we’ve never received any complaints into deaths in custody,” she said.

The former Sessions Court judge told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview that the EAIC has yet to receive any complaints of a criminal nature since its formation in April 2011.

She also said that the EAIC did not initiate any probe on previous police-related deaths due to a lack of manpower and to avoid coming into conflict with police investigations.

Nor Afizah Hanum said today that the taskforce, which was set up on May 28, could not expand its purview to investigate the latest death in custody involving P. Karuna Nithi, 43, who died at the Tampin district police station in Negri Sembilan on June 1.

“The taskforce is comprised of people who are trained in investigations, in the law,” she said, adding that the taskforce, which has between five and eight members, would be chaired by EAIC chairman Datuk Heliliah Mohd Yusof.

According to human rights group Suaram, there were over 220 cases of alleged deaths in custody in Malaysia from 2000 to May, with its records showing that nine of those cases occurred in 2012 while eight cases took place this year.

A United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 2010 visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres reported in 2011 that between 2003 and 2007, “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities.”

The Malaysian Bar, civil society groups and several politicians from both sides of the divide have called for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be implemented to reform the police force since 2006.

The EAIC does not have disciplinary powers, unlike the IPCMC, and can only make recommendations to the disciplinary authority of the relevant enforcement agency.

The IPCMC, which was mooted by a royal commission chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah but shot down by the police, was to be modelled on the United Kingdom’s Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as well as other police oversight bodies in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia, and Hong Kong.

Sumber :  The Malaysian Insider

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