KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — The National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today G. Jestus Kevin had been assaulted by other detainees before he died at the Bentong district police headquarters in Pahang last year, a case that prompted public uproar.
The 30-year-old man died of multiple blunt force trauma, cardiomyopathy and liver steatosis, according to forensic results that point to injuries sustained by the assault.
The commission’s investigation found the detainees had likely acted on police encouragement. Kevin was said to have suffered from mental illnesses and had been delirious while in detention, which prompted an officer to order other detainees to “calm him down.”
Suhakam said eyewitnesses reported Kevin being tied by a blanket and then beaten up by several other detainees, some of whom had been bribed with cigarettes.
Closed-circuit television footage confirmed their account of the incident, the commission noted.
“The forensic results found the deceased had died of ‘meningoencephalitis with multiple blunt force trauma’ and ‘cardiomyopathy and liver steatosis’,” Suhakam said in a written briefing made available to the press.
“Suhakam through statements provided by the forensic doctors can confirm that the deceased had sustained many injuries, including broken ribs,” it added.
Kevin was arrested and detained on suspicion of theft on April 2. He was found dead three days after.
Suhakam said there was clear negligence on the part of the police who failed to provide help to a detainee who suffered from mental health conditions.
“This is because for the entire duration he was in lockup, he was said to have made noises, talked to himself, climbed the walls, jumped and even attempted to commit suicide,” the commission noted.
“Suhakam is of the opinion that the deceased should have been sent to the hospital to get treatment from a medical officer based on his actions and the unstable mental state he was in,” it added.
“Instead, he was immediately detained and eventually became the victim of violence by other detainees.”
The commission has called for swift justice and stern action against Kevin’s assailants while urging the government to remedy the longstanding problems around police professionalism and logistical inadequacy.
“We have identified the detainees and police officers believed to have assaulted the deceased while in custody,” it said.
“Therefore, stern action in accordance with the law must be exacted on all of those involved.”