Kugan's family wins suit against police, govt

KUALA LUMPUR (June 26, 2013): The family of A. Kugan, 22, who died in police custody on Jan 20, 2009 won their civil suit today against the Royal Malaysian Police and the government.

High Court judge Datuk V. T. Singham awarded the family RM851,700 in damages after finding all five defendants liable for vicarious liability, false imprisonment, misfeasance in public office, and assault and battery leading to Kugan’s death.

He took to task the defendants – including Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar – for Kugan’s death at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya, Selangor, four years ago.

The others are Constable V. Navindran, of the Taipan police station, the late Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar, who was the Subang Jaya OCPD at the time of the incident, and the government of Malaysia.

Kugan’s mother, N. Indra, 45, who is the administrator of his estate, filed the suit on Jan 13 last year.
In her suit, Indra sought:
 RM50 million in damages for assault and battery;
 RM10 million in damages for false imprisonment;
 RM10 million for misfeasance in public office and RM10 million for aggravated damages;
 RM20 million for exemplary and vindicatory damages besides special damages, damages as a dependent and damages for the benefit of the estate; and
 A declaration that the defendants had willfully and maliciously breached the fundamental liberties of the deceased, and any interests, costs and any other reliefs deemed just and fit by the court.

Singham dismissed the claim that only one police officer committed the attack that ultimately led to Kugan’s death.

He said the second post-mortem report had identified 45 external injuries and numerous internal injuries sustained by Kugan, who was detained for a week as a suspect in a car theft investigation.

He also ruled that Khalid, the Selangor police chief at the time, and Zainal Rashid were liable of misfeasance in public office.

Singham said there was evidence that Khalid had never corrected statements given to the media on Jan 20 and 21, 2009.

“The first defendant (Khalid) could not plead ignorance to the grievous injuries inflicted on the deceased by the investigating officer and other officers of the Taipan police station,” said Singham.

He added that if Khalid had genuinely been transparent, he would have been the first person to launch a detailed investigation into Kugan’s death instead of waiting for his family to lodge a police report.

Singham also noted Khalid had testified to negotiating with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to confine the investigation to a charge under Section 330 of the Penal Code and not Section 302 of the same Act.

(Section 330 of the Penal Code concerns causing grievous injuries while Section 302 refers to murder.)

He said the injuries sustained by Kugan would have warranted a murder investigation.

In his ruling on negligence, assault and battery, Singham said the nature of Kugan’s injuries spoke volumes about what happened while he was detained.

“The grievous nature of the injuries must necessarily come from the police officers who were in charge of the interrogation and investigation,” said Singham.
He said the case would have “slipped under the blue carpet “ if not for Padang Serai MP N. Surendran.