Well, here we are with another police custodial death case in the year of 2022. The nightmare of unexplained deaths under police custody doesn’t seem to end anytime soon.
Identified as Kumar Selvadurai, the 35-year old detainee was detained on 10th December along with two other detainees at the Kepala Batas police station to aid in investigations relating to an ongoing theft case.
However, the family members were told by police that Kumar had already died on 13th December, just two days after his arrest!
Based on claims by the deceased younger brother Thines Selvadurai, the report stated that the family said that they were only informed of Kumar’s death recently – 53 days after it happened. Adding to the sudden loss and shock over his death, family members were informed that Kumar’s body was handed over to an unnamed non-governmental organisation after none of the deceased’s family members came to claim his body.
Why weren’t the family members informed of his death in December?
Activist and councillor with the Seberang Perai City Council, David Marshel claimed that Kumar was brought to the Kepala Batas Hospital for suspected seizure a day after his arrest and was subsequently referred to the Seberang Perai Hospital, where he was alleged to have succumbed to death due to a cardiac arrest.
He further said that before the police brought Kumar to the hospital, they had already signed for his release and given him police bail.
Upon hearing about the arrest, Kumar’s brother had gone to the Kepala Batas police station where he was being held. Kumar was spotted in the lock-up flanked by a few police officers and was told to leave.
As he left the station, he was informed by the officers to attend the court session the following day as Kumar will be charged in front of the judge. However, Kumar did not turn up. The family then discovered that two other men who had been detained with Kumar was freed by the police. When the family came to look for Kumar, police claimed that they did not know his whereabouts.
David stated a policeman later advised Kumar’s family to search for him at the Jawi prison, but he was not there either.
According to the information which we have had access, in 2020, a total number of 13 detainees died in police custody whereas six died for the first 8 months of 2021. To make matters worse, most custodial deaths go unreported with only one in four cases making headlines.
For example, from 2002 till 2016, there were 257 custodial deaths but only 62 cases were reported in the media, and mostly of Indian ethnicity whereas the reality was that more Malay men were dying in police lock-ups.
In addition, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto pointed out the most recent case of a 34-year-old detainee who died in custody in Pahang this year, she said that there have already been six deaths of men under police lock-ups in the first 34 days of the new year.
More updates to follow!