Over 1,600 deaths in custody since 2010, DPM reveals

BY KAMLES KUMAR
The Health Ministry official says overcrowding in remand cells contributes to the spread of TB. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — There have been 1,654 deaths in custody cases since 2010 until February this year, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi divulged today.

The deputy prime minister in a written parliamentary reply gave assurance that the police will not compromise or protect any police or enforcement officers who are suspected of violence resulting in injuries or death in custody.

"The statistics for death in custody from 2010 to February 2017 is 1,654 people, while the occupants received further treatment at the hospital from diseases like HIV, cancer, heart attack, blood issues, lungs, TB, asthma and other diseases," he said in his response to DAP MP Kasthuri Patto.

Ahmad Zahid also gave a complete racial breakdown of the deceased: 1,037 were Malays, 222 ethnic Chinese, 182 ethnic Indians, 28 from other ethnicities, and 185 foreigners.

He however refused to comment on the recent death in custody of S. Balamurugan in Klang, as the case is being investigated and his cause of death is still unknown.

Kasthuri, who is Batu Kawan MP, had asked the Home Ministry to list the number of deaths in custody victims since 2000s and why no immediate medical treatment was given to Balamurugan when he was in prison.

Balamurugan, 44, died in police custody at the North Klang police headquarters on February 7.  His family's lawyers had claimed from a second autopsy on the body that he had suffered multiple beatings in police custody, which subsequently triggered heart failure.