High Court upholds coroners findings on custodial death of Karuna Nithi

PETALING JAYA: The High Court has dismissed the government’s bid to overturn a coroner’s verdict that the death of a jobless man in a police lock-up in 2013 was due to physical assault, abuse and unlawful acts of police officers and other detainees.

“Having looked at the evidence, there is no reason to set aside the findings of the coroner,” judicial commissioner Muhammad Jamil Hussin said in his oral judgment.

In June 2015, the then Sessions Court judge Jagjit Singh, who sat as coroner, found that P Karuna Nithi had sustained 49 external injuries due to assault by blunt objects.

He also found that the victim’s death was accelerated by the omission to provide him with the necessary medical care.

Jagjit was also not convinced by the findings of forensic pathologist Dr Sharifah Safoorah Syed Alwee Al’ Aldrus on the cause of Karuna Nithi’s death.

On Oct 13, 2015, a six-man committee of the health ministry reviewed her post-mortem findings and its chairman Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood, a senior consultant forensic pathologist at Hospital Kuala Lumpur, gave evidence after the inquest was reopened.

Lawyer Eric Paulsen, who represented the deceased’s family, said the committee’s report concluded that Karuna Nithi died from multiple blunt force trauma with moderate fatty liver.

The lawyer said the coroner had good grounds to question the validity and reliability of the post-mortem findings and the government’s application for revision was misguided in law.

Early this year, the government filed a revision in the Seremban High Court to overturn the verdict of the coroner despite the adverse report by the medical committee.

Police detained Karuna Nithi on May 28, 2013 after his wife lodged a report that he had assaulted her following a quarrel at their home at Rumah Rakyat Taman Muhibbah in Gemencheh.

Karuna Nithi also lodged a report earlier in the day admitting he assaulted his wife because he could not take her verbal abuse.

The following morning, the Tampin magistrate’s court allowed him to be remanded for four days.

On May 31, he was charged with causing hurt and was allowed bail of RM4,000 but was taken back to the lockup because his family could not post bail.

A policeman who went to check on him at about 6pm the following day found him unconscious inside his cell. He was pronounced dead about four hours later.

Meanwhile, Eric expressed hope Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali would not appeal the matter.

“The incident happened in 2013 and the sad event must be brought to a closure, at least for the family,” he said.

Eric said the AG should instead open investigation and charge those responsible for causing the death of Karuna Nithi.

“The least is for the disciplinary committee to take action against the errant policemen,” he added.

source : FMT 

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