Man in hot water for trying to set himself on fire

Pannir Selvam Gopal caused the detention centre to catch fire when he tried immolating himself in protest as immigration officers prepared for his deportation. The 33-year-old Malaysian may be charged for damaging the centre with fire.

PETALING JAYA - A Malaysian who reportedly tried to set himself on fire at an immigration detention centre in Medan, Sumatra, could face char­ges even as he waits to be deported to Malaysia for oversta­ying.

According to Malaysian vice-consul-general in Medan Nor Azhar Hajis, 33-year-old Pannir Selvam Gopal could be charged for dama­ging the detention centre with fire.

A report in The Jakarta Post said he set himself alight to protest against his deportation from Indonesia.

Nor Azhar said Pannir Selvam was arrested by Indonesian immigration authorities last Thursday at nearby Belawan after he was found to have overstayed in the country for nearly 18 months.

He was then taken to a detention centre pending his deportation.

"I was told that Pannir Selvam had been facing personal pro­­­blems and the prospect of being deported to Malaysia caused him to become even more depressed," said Nor Azhar, who added that Indonesian authorities reported that a fire broke out at about 3am on Monday in the detention room where Pannir Selvam was being held.

A staff member rushed to the scene and managed to put out the fire while Pannir Selvam, who sustained relatively minor injuries, was sent to a nearby hospital.

He added that Pannir Selvam's relatives in Johor Baru were informed by the consulate last week about his detention.