Mother of dead inmate withdraws legal actions

Mother of dead inmate withdraws legal actions
Madam Selvi Narayanasamy (extreme left) has accepted "unconditionally and unequivocally" that the death of her son, Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah (right), was caused solely through senior prison officer Lim Kwo Yin's negligence, and that the coroner's inquiry had been discontinued in accordance with the law.

SINGAPORE - The mother of an inmate who died in prison more than three years ago has withdrawn all her legal actions against the State, after reaching an "amicable settlement" with the Government last week.

The settlement sum - proposed by Madam Selvi Narayanasamy, 45 - is confidential. But a joint statement released yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Madam Selvi said it was "at a level which the Government had indicated from the start it was prepared to consider".

The Government had admitted responsibility for the death of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah, 21, and offered a compensation sum on Sept 10 last year, which Madam Selvi turned down.

The settlement brings to a close the saga over the death of Dinesh, who suffered breathing difficulties after being placed chest down and left in an isolation cell following an attack on a warden on Sept 27, 2010.

In July last year, senior prison officer Lim Kwo Yin, 36, pleaded guilty to causing death by a negligent act and was fined $10,000.

Mr Lim, a deputy superintendent, was supervising a group of seven other officers at Changi Prison who were trying to subdue Dinesh after he kicked a prison officer in the abdomen.

After Mr Lim was fined, a coroner's inquiry into the death was halted, a move which led to questions being raised.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) later clarified that when criminal proceedings have already determined how a death occurred, the coroner has the discretion to discontinue an inquiry if he thinks it is no longer needed.

In August, Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said in Parliament that the Government accepted responsibility for the death, and will compensate Dinesh's family.

His family called for the coroner's inquiry to be reopened, but the AGC rejected their bid.

Madam Selvi then filed an application for a judicial review in the High Court, challenging the coroner's decision not to proceed.

Separately, she filed a civil suit against the Government seeking damages, despite the offer of compensation.

Her bid for a judicial review was dismissed in October last year and an appeal was heard on April 8 by the Court of Appeal, which reserved judgment.

Things took a twist a week later when Madam Selvi and the Government arrived at a settlement.

The settlement is "on a full and final basis, in relation to all claims, disputes, issues and matters whatsoever relating to, arising from or in connection with the death of Dinesh", yesterday's statement said.

It said Madam Selvi has "unreservedly and unconditionally" withdrawn allegations of assault and abuse of authority she made against prison officers in her lawsuit.

She has also accepted "unconditionally and unequivocally" that the death was caused solely through Mr Lim's negligence, and the discontinuance of the inquiry was in accordance with the law.

Her lawyer M. Ravi, speaking after formally withdrawing her appeal in court, said she was "quite happy" with the settlement.

"It is also closure for her. She has decided to move on with her life," he said, adding that "she felt vindicated" as she had her case heard before the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

selinal@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 24 in The Straits Times.

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