Probe hospital for alleged neglect, family and lawyer say after death in custody

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

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 ― The family of M Thanaseelan, who died in police custody, today demanded the Health Ministry investigate Kuala Kubu Baru Hospital for any possible misconduct.

His widow S Premilah together with his lawyer Melissa Sasidaran handed over a memorandum to the Health Ministry in Putrajaya demanding for an immediate investigation as there was probable neglect in treating him.

“We demand an independent, transparent and professional investigation conducted on Kuala Kubu Baru Hospital and the doctors responsible for he patient Thanaseelan,” Melissa told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.

The family also demanded for immediate action on the doctors involved if there was any “neglect” in treating Thanaseelan before his death.

“Clearly there was neglect on the part of the hospital and the doctors responsible for him. Instead of safeguarding Thanaseelan's basic right to life and his health, there was a failure to do so in his case.

“There cannot be a double standard in treating an ordinary patient and a patient who is in detention, one's rights isn't suspended upon detention,” Melissa added.

The lawyer also alleged that the hospital had failed to treat Thanaseelan who was said to have suffered from gastric problems properly, instead sending him back to the lock-up which resulted in his probable death, several hours later.

“According to the pathologist, he would have been in great pain prior to his death, as he had a prior chronic gastric condition. Also, he would have been very weak due to his condition and unable to eat. However pathologists said it was treatable and death was entirely preventable,” she said.

The 43-year-old man had died of a “perforated gastric ulcer” last month while under the custody of the Bukit Sentosa police in Hulu Selangor.

Thanaseelan was arrested for alleged burglary on February 21, and was held at the Bukit Sentosa police station. He was found dead in his cell by a guard four days later at 1.50am.

He had been under a court remand between February 22 and 25.

His estranged wife S. Piremilah had been reported to have said she did not know of Thanaseelan’s arrest and was only informed of his death some seven hours later.

Thanaseelan’s case is the latest of custodial deaths, amid increased scrutiny over such cases in the country.

Both the national human rights commission and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission have said they are investigating the police for potential misconduct and mistreatment towards detainees