LFL wants AGC to withdraw appeal against verdict on Karuna Nithi’s death

15 Feb 2019 / 19:43 H.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today urged Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to withdraw the prosecution appeal to overturn a Coroner verdict on the death of P. Karuna Nithi.

Karuna, 42, was detained and remanded for four days on May 28, 2013 at Tampin, Negri Sembilan police headquarters, following an altercation with his wife.

He was then found dead while in custody apparently due to beatings by police and other detainees on June 1, 2013.

LFL executice director Latheefa Koya (pix) said the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) must be in line with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) 2018 GE14 election manifesto, in which they promised to look into all the complaints relating to deaths while in custody.

“The AGC should act as a guardian of the public interest and take all deaths in custody seriously and not act as the defender of public authorities to help them escape liability.

“We really do not understand the insistency of pursuing the appeal as this is not a case where somebody just died of neglect but a case of clear abuse that is practically murder,“ she said in a press conference at the LFL office here.

“The inquest is where you want to find out the truth. You (Tommy) are supposed to find out the truth.

“Who are you defending?” she said.

Latheefa pointed out that the manner in which the appeal was being pursued was as if the prosecution was attempting to protect someone.

She added that LFL’s had sent letters to the AGC on August 2018 and January 2019 for reconsideration.

Karuna Nithi’s elder brother, P. Elam Sezhian, who was also present here expressed anger and grief at the government, especially the AGC, for continuously pursuing the appeal as there has been no action taken against those involved in the death of his sibling.

“I want justice. It has been more than five years and yet no action has been taken against those responsible.

“What does the AG want, I do not know,“ he said.

On June 2, 2013, a post-mortem was conducted on Karuna Nithi’s body by forensic pathologist Dr Sharifah Safoorah at Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, in which she concluded that the deceased had died from “fatty change of liver” despite visible signs of bruises on the body, including a jaw fracture and multiple haematomas (swelling of clotted blood) in his chest.

The first verdict was delivered in January 1, 2015 by Coroner Jadjit Singh at the Coroner’s Court in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, in which the Coroner then rejected Dr Sharifah’s post-mortem report and instead concluded that the death was caused by multiple injuries (a total of 49 injuries), failure to provide necessary medical care and attention required by the deceased and failure of the police officers to stop other detainees from abusing the deceased in the police lock-up.

On February 27, 2015, a committee of six pathologists was formed as the Inquiry Committee after the AGC requested the Health Ministry to review Dr Sharifah’s post-mortem report and the Coroner’s first verdict.

The committee referred Dr Sharifah’s erroneous findings to misinformation and decided that the deceased’s death was due to multiple instances of blunt force trauma to a man with moderate “fatty change of the liver” even, which according to Dr Sharifah’s post-mortem report, the liver disease symptoms were mild.

Public prosecutors later filed to re-open the inquest for the second time but the Coroner maintained its verdict in April 18, 2016 before another revision of the decision was dismissed on Oct 9, 2017 by the High Court.

The hearing of the appeal is expected to take place in Putrajaya on Feb 21.

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