Father wins suit over son's death in prison

KUALA LUMPUR - A father of an inmate who died at the Sungai Buloh Prison after he was attacked by a group of inmates won his suit against the Home Ministry secretary-general, the prison director and four others.

High Court judge Justice Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad ruled that M. Ghaur Chandram, 57, had succeeded in proving his claim against the defendants.

She said there was a breach of care on the part of the defendants and the deceased, Uthayachandran, who indisputably died in the custody of prison authorities. He was 23.

Justice Nik Hasmat said it was not a normal practice for an inmate to be brought down when a food rationing exercise was carried out and "Pintu B" at the ground floor was not closed, allowing a group of prisoners to attack Uthayachandran.

She said there were six or seven wardens who were not equipped to look after more than 700 inmates in the prison.

"The deceased died as a direct result of the attack on him by fellow inmates. The court merely rules that there was breach of care and degree of negligence on the part of the defendants which resulted in his death.

"Accordingly, I allow the plaintiff's claim of special damages for funeral expenses and loss of dependency, exemplary and general damages to be assessed later," she said in her judgment yesterday.

The court fixed March 20 for the hearing on the quantum of damages.

In his suit filed on June 1, 2009, Ghaur Chandram named the Home Ministry secretary-general, the Sungai Buloh Prison director, the prison hospital's medical officer, wardens Mohd Rosaizi and Tuan Azhar Mohd and the Government as defendants.

Ghaur Chandram, who was a taxi driver, sought RM3.6mil (S$1.3 million) in general and exemplary damages and interest on the general and special damages.

In his statement of claim, Chandram alleged that the Sungai Buloh Prison director, the prison hospital's medical officer, the wardens and the Government who were responsible at the prison were negligent and his son was beaten to death by a group of prisoners.

He claimed that the defendants failed or refused to inform his family on his son's death when Uthayachandran's welfare was their responsibility.

Uthayachandran was detained for a drug-related case and died on May 18, 2008.