Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kugan's samples returned in untenable condition: lawyers

The Sun

PETALING JAYA (Jan 29, 2010): Lawyers for the family of V. Kugan, the man who died in police custody, today took the police to task for returning samples taken from his body to the hospital in an incomplete and untenable condition.

The samples of blood and fluid specimens taken by Dr Prashant Samberkar of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in a privately-commissioned post-mortem were to be flown out to Australia for a second stage of a post-mortem when they were seized by police in April last year.

On Oct 9 that year, the magistrate's court in Petaling Jaya ordered the police to return them to UMMC. Police complied a few days later.

N. Surendran, one of the lawyers representing Kugan's family, told a press conference today: "In particular, an entire bottle of specimen was never returned."

Of the rest of the samples, he said: "I was told by Dr Prashant that they were unlikely to be of any use, as they were no longer in a frozen state."

Another lawyer, Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran, accusing the police of being in contempt of a court order, said they were also worried the samples may have been tampered with by the police, in which case the toxicology tests would not bear any fruit.

Kugan, 23, was detained on suspicion of stealing luxury cars, but died in a police lock-up at 11am on Jan 20 last year. His family suspected foul play, and commissioned a second post-mortem at UMMC after the first at the Serdang Hospital yielded a report that they were unhappy with.

Prashant had made a provisional report stating Kugan had died of kidney failure due to severe beatings. The first post-mortem stated Kugan died due to fluid accumulation in the lungs.

The samples taken by Prashant were ready to be flown out for a second stage of the post mortem when they were seized by police on the instruction of the attorney-general.

Surendran said they believed the police were well aware of their intention to carry out a toxicology test, as they had copies of the post mortem report and their own experts. "We intended to send the samples to a lab in Australia for toxicological tests as University Hospital could not do it."

Surendran had sent a letter to director of the Criminal Investigations Department Datuk Bakri Zinin on Oct 28 asking for the full set of samples to be returned but there has been no reply.

"This is a deliberate attempt to cover up the truth," said Surendran.

Manogaran, who is also representing the family, said they were ready to proceed with contempt of court charges if Kugan’s mother agreed to it.

Surendran said they suspected Kugan may have been poisoned or something may have been administered to him whilst he was under detention.

Pointing to a picture taken during Kugan’s second post-mortem, Surendran said: "You can see amongst the fatty tissue on his wrist, there is a red circular dot, the experts we have consulted believe this is the mark of a syringe entering the body."

Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam said they would submit a memorandum to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan regarding Kugan's and another case next Wednesday. - theSun