SEREMBAN, Malaysia - The Coroner's Court here has ruled that the death of a jobless man while in police custody in June 2013 was due to injuries sustained after being physically assaulted by fellow inmates and policemen on duty.
Judge Jagjit Singh Bant Singh said 43-year-old P. Karuna Nithi sustained 49 external injuries caused by blunt objects.
"The court finds that his death was due to physical assaults, abuses and unlawful acts of persons unknown, including police officers and other detainees, in the lock-up where he was detained.
"Karuna Nithi's death was accelerated by failure to provide necessary medical care and attention.
"Police officers also failed to stop other detainees from abusing him in the lock-up," he told a packed court room yesterday.
The man was detained on May 28, 2013 after his wife lodged a report that he had assaulted her after a quarrel at their home at Rumah Rakyat Taman Muhibbah in Gemencheh.
On May 31, he was charged with causing hurt and was offered a RM4,000 bail, but when his family failed to raise the amount, he was taken back to the lock-up.
He was found unconscious inside his cell the next day and was certified dead about four hours later.
A post-mortem report prepared by specialists from the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital stated that his death was due to a fatty liver and hypoglycaemia.
The deceased's family lodged a police report claiming that he was in good health when he was arrested.
Jagjit said after considering evidence from witnesses, the court also found that doctors who performed the post-mortem had erred.
"Admittedly, the court also finds that Karuna Nithi was not an easy detainee as seen from the CCTV recordings obtained from the lock-up as he was constantly raving and ranting, hallucinating and was always very restless.
"But his condition and behaviour certainly does not justify for him to be physically and mentally abused by the police officers and other detainees," he said.
Karuna Nithi's family is now planning to take legal action against those responsible for his death.
His elder brother Elam Sezhian, 46, said the family wants those responsible to be brought to justice and punished accordingly.
"My brother was a healthy man and never showed symptoms of being ill before he was detained by the police," he said.
On Jan 16, the Kuala Lumpur Coroner's Court had ruled that the death of a lorry driver in a police lock-up two years ago was due to the negligence of police officers.
Chandran Perumal, 47, was found dead in the police lock-up at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters on Sept 10, 2012, at about 7pm after being detained for five days.
Chandran, who was in remand for being a suspect in a kidnapping case, died from a heart disease after being deprived of his medication.