Malaysia Judge Clears 4 Policemen in Torture Case

Amir Hadi Azmi
Kuala Lumpur
160629-MY-officers-acquitted-620.jpg N. Surendran (center), a lawyer for late truck driver N. Dharmendran, shows an image of injuries on a computer tablet as Dharmendran’s widow (right), Marry Mariaysusay, holds up a copy of her husband’s post-mortem report during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, June 1, 2013.

A Malaysian high court on Wednesday acquitted four policemen of charges of causing the death of a detainee, just two months after a government commission found the officers responsible for torturing and killing the man in 2013.

The prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers caused the death of N. Dharmendran sometime between May 18 and 21, 2013, Judge Kamardin Hashim ruled.

A pathologist at Kuala Lumpur Hospital determined that had Dharmendran died of soft-tissue injuries brought on by blunt force, including having his ears stapled while he was alive.

“The prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence that did not point to the guilt of the four accused,” Hashim said.

The four policemen, Inspector S. Hare Krishnan, Sgt. Jaffri Jaafar and corporals Mohd Nahar Abd Rahman and Haswadi Zamri Shaari cried and hugged each other following Wednesday’s verdict, according to media reports.

The verdict did not surprise human rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan.

“The burden of proof in criminal proceeding is higher than that of a commission investigation,” he told BenarNews, adding, “What the family can do now is to pursue a civil suit against the police officers and the government.”

The four were charged with killing Dharmendran, a truck driver, at the Kuala Lumpur Police Headquarters. Dharmendran was arrested on May 11, 2013, on a charge of the attempted murder of two people in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, and died 10 days later.

“In this case, the judge held that there were doubts,” lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who represented Krishnan, told BenarNews.

The policemen were acquitted even though the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) reported on April 28 that Dharmendran had suffered 52 bruises while in police custody, which led to his death.

Following the release of the commission’s report into the case, Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar said the EAIC should not have made the announcement because the case was sub judice – meaning it was under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion.

EAIC was formed in 2011 to handle complaints of misconduct against 19 enforcement agencies including police, immigration and customs.

An EAIC spokesperson declined to comment on Wednesday’s verdict, telling BenarNews that it was not appropriate to do so because the “case was just decided.”

Acquittals repeated

Wednesday’s ruling marked the second time that the four officers were acquitted in the case.

On Dec. 12, 2014, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur cleared the four officers, ruling there was no prima facie evidence to support the case against them. At the time, Judge Hashim stated the prosecution had failed to prove a motive and had provided only circumstantial evidence.

An Appeals’ Court overruled the acquittal and ordered the four to present their defense following an appeal by the prosecution.

Dharmendran family attorney N. Surendran said his clients would continue to seek justice for their loved one, who was a husband and father.

He said his clients wanted an explanation from Khalid and Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali on their failure to secure any conviction for the crime.

“Dharmendran’s widow and family members are disappointed and saddened by this verdict. The feeling of Dharmendran’s family is indescribable,” Surendran said, according to Free Malaysia Today.


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