After meeting S Sivabalan’s grieving family, Klang lawmaker Charles Santiago has highlighted three details that he said warranted an inquest into the custodial death.
Selangor police chief Arjunaidi Mohamed, meanwhile, refuted the alleged discrepancies.
Security guard Sivabalan died about 70 minutes after he was arrested by Gombak police on Thursday (May 20).
The official cause of death was an “acute myocardial infarction”, or a heart attack.
According to his death certificate, which Malaysiakini sighted, the 43-year-old was pronounced dead at 12.30pm, with Selayang Hospital listed as his “place of death”.
This contradicted Arjunaidi’s statement that he died at the Gombak district police station.
Delayed call, arrest
According to Charles, the police had contacted Sivabalan’s sister on May 20 after his official time of death and said he was hospitalised.
“The sister got a call at 3pm saying 'your brother is very very sick, please go to Selayang Hospital'.
“When they went to the hospital and asked the counter, there was no registration under this guy’s (Sivabalan) name,” the MP said when contacted after visiting Sivabalan's family this morning.
The third discrepancy was how police arrested Sivabalan allegedly over a police report that was lodged at least five years ago.
“Why wait for so long to do an investigation?” asked the DAP politician.
When contacted about the alleged discrepancies, Arjunaidi maintained that Sivabalan had died at IPD Gombak.
“He died at IPD Gombak, not at Hospital Selayang. He was later taken to Hospital Selayang for a post mortem,” he said.
He also clarified that the police had contacted Sivabalan’s sister to deliver news of his death, not illness.
“We did not say he was ill at the hospital, but we informed that he had died and will be brought to the hospital. We informed her a little earlier (than Charles claimed), around 1.30pm to 2pm,” he said.
Arjunaidi added that police had a warrant for Sivabalan’s arrest for a criminal intimidation case.
“We detained him because we had an arrest warrant. I already explained that we did not detain him for an investigation but because we had an arrest warrant.
“We were going to release him on police bail for him to appear in court,” he said.
Sivabalan’s death came amid public outcry over A Ganapathy, who was hospitalised and later died after he was arrested.
Both Ganapathy and Sivabalan were detained at the Gombak district police station.
Selangor police stressed that an autopsy found no “physical injuries” on Sivabalan’s body.
They have classified his case as a “sudden death” and investigations are ongoing. They said they will propose that an inquest be held.
Charles reiterated his call for an inquest to be expedited to ensure all evidence could be preserved in their original form.
He also proposed that proceedings be led by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) for more oversight.
“The inspector-general of police (Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani) has to make the appointment early so that the CCTV (recordings), documents, SMS, phone calls and all of that can be kept somewhere separate before the investigation takes place.
“This is really important because if we go with the traditional route, we will never see justice,” Charles added.
Simpang Pulai assemblyperson Tan Kar Hing also called for an inquest not only into Sivabalan’s death but also Ganapathy’s.
The PKR politician further urged the police to stop investigating elected representatives and the media for raising issues about deaths in police custody.
“The police should understand that society has the right to ask about controversial deaths in custody, what more the media and people’s representatives who are carrying out their responsibilities in reporting these incidents and seeking justice,” Tan said in a statement.
Gombak police chief Arifai Tarawe has threatened to sue Free Malaysia Today for RM10 million after the news portal appeared to link his upcoming transfer to the Ganapathy case.