Thursday, 16 August 2012

Another death in custody: So, why are cops probing cops?

Human rights organisation Suaram today condemned the police for yet another death in custody, and questioned the credibility of an investigation into the matter by the police themselves.

Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan said the death of 36-year-old Cheah Chin Lee hours after arrest should instead be investigated by an independent body.

Thevarajan said a conflict of interest would still arise even if the death was investigated by an officer from a different police district.

"In the absence of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the police will always be investigated by their own peers," he said.

The investigation could also be done through the setting up of a coroner's court, which would conduct independent inquests, with the result made public.

'No cover up' pledge

"Otherwise, the people will hold the officer-in-charge and/or police liable for Cheah's death," Thevarajan said.

Cheah was pronounced dead at the Northeast District police headquarters on Jalan Pattani in George Town on Aug 13, five hours after he was arrested.

According to the preliminary post-mortem report, he died of "asphyxia due to hanging", but the family is claiming Cheah, who had been arrested for the first time, was mentally stable, had a permanent job and would not take his own life.

George Town OCPD Gan Kon Meng has ordered an investigation into Cheah's death and has vowed that there would be no cover up on the matter.

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