The Bar Council calls for prompt and serious action by the authorities, including an immediate, impartial, transparent and thorough investigation into this custodial death, preferably by an independent committee.
In this regard we welcome the Attorney-General’s announcement that he is treating this case as one of murder, and the Inspector-General of Police’s statement that there will be no cover-up.
We trust that undue attention will not be given to the incident at the mortuary. It reflected the reactions of persons who were understandably outraged and emotional about A. Kugan’s sudden and unexplained death. It also sadly reflects their lack of faith in the system and the authorities to uncover the truth in a transparent and unbiased manner. This view prevails because none of the perpetrators of similar acts in the past have been brought to book.
This is not the first custodial death in recent years and our fear is that it will not be the last. Such tragedies bring to the fore, once again, the dire need for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct.
We also call on the authorities to expedite the ongoing inquests into other custodial deaths. We are deeply concerned that this custodial death will be relegated to a mere statistic, like the others. As a civilised nation, we must not let this happen.
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
23 January 2009