Family to sue police, hospital over Ganapathy’s custodial death, says lawyer

Elill Easwaran

The family of custodial death victim Ganapathy Anpalagan, 40, will sue the police and Selayang hospital for alleged murder. – Picture courtesy of Ganapathy’s family, April 29, 2021.

THE family of custodial death victim Ganapathy Anpalagan, 40, will sue the police and Selayang hospital for alleged murder.

Family lawyer Ganesh Kanagaretnam said Ganapathy’s family wants to sue for alleged negligence resulting in the death of their son.

The lawyer said he was waiting for investigations to be concluded before filing legal action.

“The investigation officer of this case assured us that he will get to the bottom of this and is still looking for further leads,” Ganesh told The Malaysian Insight.

He said the family suspected foul play in the death of Ganapathy on April 18.

Ganapathy died while having treatment at Selayang Hospital after he was sent there from police custody.

He was arrested on February 24 to assist in investigations into his sibling’s alleged crimes. He was said to have spent 12 days in police custody from February 24 to March 8 before being admitted to the hospital.

He succumbed to his injuries on April 18 after spending over a month at the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Ganesh said that in the 12 days Ganapathy was in police custody, he was brought to Selayang Hospital four times to receive treatment at his own request.

They were on February 28, March 3, 6 and 7.

“Initially Ganapathy told the magistrate that his leg was in pain and the magistrate instructed the police to bring him to the hospital.

“He was there for a few hours and then brought back to police custody, and after further beating he was brought again to the hospital.

“This happened two more times,” said the lawyer.

He claimed that the hospital was also liable for the doctors’ failure to take care of Ganapathy.

“The hospital is to be blamed on this as the doctor should have told the police that Ganapathy was in a serious condition and needed monitored,” said Ganesh.

He said Ganapathy was a diabetes patient and the doctors should have stepped in and prevented the police from putting the victim back in custody.

He added the only time the family was allowed to visit Ganapathy was 12 days after the arrest.

By then Ganapathy was in intensive care unit (ICU), and the police had informed his family that the victim being in such a severe condition was due to falling off a motorcycle.

However, his mother claimed that he was beaten by police while in detention.

Ganapathy’s family also claimed that his health deteriorated while in police custody and that his leg was swollen and bruised, which suggested that he had been beaten.

“Ganapathy was arrested on February 24 at a motorcycle repair shop in Shah Alam, where he was told to assist with investigations into his sibling’s alleged crimes,” said activist Shankar Ganesh, 42.

Shankar, who is known as Funky Shankar, recently had a livestream interview with Ganapathy’s family where it went viral on social media.

He added that Malaysians voiced out so much on social media for the killing of George Floyd in the United States of America but had been silent when it came to Ganapathy.

The police need to be transparent

Meanwhile, Batu Member of Parliament P. Prabakaran said the police must come up with a clear and transparent explanation, adding that the chronology of the event must be shown to the public without any cover-up.

He also asked the police to reveal the CCTV footage of Ganapathy while in police custody.

“The government previously, on September 23, 2019, approved over RM73 million to install CCTV in all police lock-ups, as announced by then de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong, but what happened to the project? 

“Will Ganapathy’s condition be revealed through that lock-up CCTV footage?” he said.

Former sports and youth minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman also weighed in on the matter, saying that there must be accountability and transparency over the victim’s death.

“Even though they (suspects) may be found guilty, they deserve to be treated humanely. If it can happen to them, it can happen to any one of us.

“Push for accountability, push for transparency, push for integrity, Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), push for justice,” he said in support of fighting for justice for Ganapathy.

Watchdog Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (EDICT) said abuse in custody must be stopped immediately.

“The culture of violence and tactics of abuse to force suspects to confess is inappropriate if the police carry out their duties and investigations properly and completely,” it said.

Overall, there were 257 deaths in police custody between 2002 and 2016, according to official statistics provided by the Home Ministry in a parliamentary reply on March 28, 2017.

Some of the more prominent cases are as below:

– Balamurugan, 44, was found dead at the Klang Utara police headquarters (IPD) in Selangor on February 8, 2017. He was arrested two days earlier on suspicion of car theft. During a remand hearing, the magistrate instructed the police to send Balamurugan to the hospital but he was brought back instead to the North Klang district police headquarters, where he was found unconscious by 11pm, and declared dead at 12.10am.

– Syed Mohd Azlan, a 25-year-old welder, was arrested in the early hours of November 3, 2014, on suspicion of rioting and possession of a weapon two weeks before. He was found unresponsive when he was about to be transported to the Kota Tinggi district police headquarters at 7.15am. In 2018, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) said police personnel had beaten Syed Mohd Azlan while in custody, adding that it found 61 wounds on his body that were consistent with defensive injuries.

– Kugan Ananthan, 22, was believed to have been tormented to death while in police custody in 2009. His family had to forcefully break into the morgue where his body was kept. His case was later classified as murder by the attorney-general, and 11 officers at the station where he had died were transferred to desk duty. – April 29, 2021.

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