Thursday, 9 August 2012
Direct tear gas fire caused injuries, says cop
A Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) unit commander has admitted that the serious injuries suffered by several Bersih 3.0 protesters were most likely caused by tear gas cannisters fired direct and horizontally at them.
"If fired in an arc, they would fall slowly and bounce off, and not cause serious injury," ASP Alekzandra Dawam told the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry into violence during the April 28 rally in Kuala Lumpur today.
Alekzandra also said the projectile, even though hot after it is fired and if fired in an arc, will not be in contact with a person long enough to cause serious burns as it will bounce off.
He agreed with a suggestion from the inquiry panel that injuries such as serious scalding and bruising to the arm and a direct hit to the eyes suffered by at least one protester must have been caused by a direct shot.
The unit commander said that while his FRU troop was in action, all their tear gas was fired in an arc and there was no incident of cannisters hitting protesters and causing serious injury.
But he does not know if such cases happened during the time that other units were on duty.
He described that other than the FRU, over 2,000 general duty police were on duty during Bersih 3.0, reinforced by DBKL enforcement officers and he believes some Rela members.
Alekzandra was asked his opinion about the incidents where several protesters at the pro-electoral reform rally on April 28 said they were seriously scalded and injured when hit by tear gas cannisters.
‘Women and children fair game’
Responding to a query, he also said that while the police Public Order Manual and commandant’s orders prohibit the use of baton charges against women and children, no such distinction was made in the use of tear gas and water cannon.
“Those before us are termed as protesters, that is how we respond,” he said in relation to police guidelines on tear gas and water cannon deployment.
However, he added that he is duty bound to use his best efforts to ensure that no harm came to his men or protesters.
Cross-examined by the police counsel at the inquiry, ACP Jamaluddin Abdul Rahman, Alekzandra also agreed that injuries suffered by protesters can also be caused by being hit by other thrown objects or self-inflicted when protesters tripped and fell down.
He also related that that other than being hurled insults, police were also pelted by projectiles such as debris, rubbish, broken bricks, stones, water bottles and ball bearings on that day.
He commands the FRU Troop 4B based in Cheras, which was deployed for crowd control during the Bersih 3.0 rally.
Troop 4B, comprising two officers and 69, men saw action at Detaran Merdeka, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Tun Perak during the rally.