KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Suspected car thief K. Kugan was beaten while in custody, a policeman who witnessed the assault told the High Court today, but confessed that he had failed to record the incident in the station diary as he had not expected the man to die as a result.
Lance Corporal Mohd Haizan Hamid, the last person to testify in the RM100 million lawsuit by Kugan’s mother, N. Indra, recounted he saw a fellow police officer, Constable V. Navindran, beat up Kugan in an interrogation room at the USJ-Taipan police station in Subang Jaya, Selangor four years ago.
Mohd Haizan said he had stopped Navindran (picture) from bashing Kugan further.
“As I entered the room, I saw Navindran beating up Kugan and I pulled him away to stop him from continuing the assault,” Mohd Haizan said under questioning from Ramesh Sivakumar, lawyer for Navindran.
The lance corporal also told the court that he had made a mistake by not recording the incident in the station diary, saying he had not expected anything bad to happen to Kugan later.
“After the incident, I did ask Kugan about his condition and he replied that he was all right.
“I did not expect anything bad to happen and I admit I made a mistake by not recording the incident in the diary,” the 31-year-old testified.
Mohd Haizan was among several officers on duty that day in charge of recording the station’s daily affairs in its work diary.
He had been called to testify as he was also one of the policemen guarding the interrogation room where Kugan, 23, was held. The USJ-Taipan police station, which is located in a shophouse, does not have a lock-up.
Mohd Haizan admitted he had breached the police’s standard operating procedure when he left out jotting down the assault in the station records, but denied it was a deliberate move to cover up the incident.
“After the Kugan incident to now there has been no disciplinary action against me.
“I had no intent to hide anything, furthermore I had already asked Kugan about his condition and he said he was good,” Mohd Haizan said.
The lance corporal has served in the police force without a blemish on his record.
Mohd Haizan also denied he had received orders from the then-Subang Jaya police chief ACP Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar to select one of 14 police officers involved in Kugan’s case to be the scapegoat, as alleged by Navindran previously.
He agreed that Zainal Rashid had called for an informal meeting with all officers involved, but insisted it was only to meet those dragged into the controversy.
“The district police chief called all members because he wanted to see those involved in the case.
“There was no discussion or instructions from him to pick a member to be responsible for Kugan’s death. I disagree there was any discussion,” Mohd Haizan said under questioning.
Kugan was found dead in the USJ-Taipan police station at 11.40am on January 20, 2009.
The Petaling Jaya Sessions Court sentenced Navindran to three years’ jail last year after finding the police constable guilty of causing hurt to Kugan in an interrogation room of the Taipan USJ police station, Subang Jaya on January 16, 2009.
Indra, 44, had filed the suit on January 13 accusing the government and the police in particular, of voluntarily causing hurt to Kugan and failing to ensure the security, health and well-being of her son while he was in detention.
She had named Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (who was then Selangor police chief); former police constable Navindran; Zainal Rashid (now deceased); the Inspector-General of Police and the government as defendants.
The Petaling Jaya Sessions Court sentenced Navindran to three years’ jail after finding the police constable guilty of causing hurt to Kugan in an interrogation room of the police station on January 16, 2009.
In her statement of claim, Indra claimed that all the defendants had failed to ensure the safety, health and welfare of her son, Kugan, who was 23 years old at the time, while he was in police custody from January 14 to 20, 2009.
Justice Datuk V. T. Singham today fixed February 28 for case management.
The spotlight on custodial deaths has grown more acute following Kugan’s death.
Kugan’s death was initially classified as sudden death and attributed to water in his lungs according to an initial post-mortem report.
However, the case was reclassified as murder following a public outcry.
Eleven rank-and-file policemen were transferred to desk duty at the Selangor police headquarters but only one person — Navindran — was charged over the incident.