Joint statement by Civil Society On The Death in Police Custody Of R. Gunasegaran
1. Brief Facts
R. Gunasegaran, aged 31, was arrested on the evening of 16th July, 2009 in Sentul.
His family members were later informed that Gunasegaran had, that same day, died, due to drug abuse-related causes.
Similarly, a copy of the burial permit, issued by the hospital authorities, states that Gunasegaran died from drug-related causes.
A post-mortem has since been carried out.
The family of the late Gunasegaran had requested for a copy of the post-mortem report but have been informed that the same will only be made available after:
i) the body of Gunasegaran, which is still in the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary, is removed; and
ii) thereafter, after a formal application is made for a copy of the same.
The family of the late Gunasegaran have been informed that it will take about two months from the date of application for a copy of the said post-mortem report before a copy of the same will be made available to them.
Since first learning of the death of Gunasegaran, the family of the deceased have since been in contact with eye-witnesses to Gunasegaran’s arrest and detention by the police authorities and have been informed that:
i) at the time of his arrest, Gunasegaran was subjected to physical assault by a member of the police force; and
ii) at the Sentul police station, where Gunasegaran and several other arrestees were taken, Gunasegaran was subjected to further assaults by the same police officer who had assaulted him earlier, but with much greater severity, causing Gunasegaran to lose consciousness which he never regained until his death.
2. The Wishes Of The Family Of The Late Gunasegaran
We are given to understand that the family, quite understandably, wishes to remove the remains of the late Gunasegaran as soon as possible, to perform the requisite religious rituals and thereafter to allow Gunasegaran the dignity of a proper cremation.
Yet the family also needs to know the truth of why Gunasegaran is no longer with them, given the information that has now come to them, and in this regard are desirous that the post-mortem report be immediately made available to them.
3. Civil Society Expectations
In the first instance, we extend our condolences to the family of the late Gunasegaran.
We also join the family in insisting that the post-mortem report be made immediately available to the family of the late Gunasegaran.
We also call for the holding of an inquest to look into the cause of death of Gunasegaran.
We also call on the authorities to put a stop to this practice of deferring the delivery of the post-mortem report to the next-of-kin, in “death in police custody” cases, until after the body has been buried and or cremated. Given the suspicious circumstances of deaths in many of these cases, it is simply unacceptable that the next-of-kin in such cases should not be privy to this important report before the body of the deceased is buried or cremated.
We also take this opportunity to reiterate the many calls by civil society for the long overdue establishment of the IPCMC. We feel that had this Commission been set up some time back, the number of “death in police custody” cases may not have been as numerous as we have had to endure.
Finally, we extend to the family of the late Gunasegaran a commitment to render all assistance in getting to the truth of the circumstances surrounding the death of Gunasegaran and, should an inquest or any other investigation disclose an element of foul play leading to Gunasegaran’s death, to pursue justice for Gunasegaran and his family.