Five shot dead by police: Hold coroner’s inquiry immediately to establish truth

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Five people, aged between 25 and 30, were extrajudicially killed by Malaysian police when they allegedly while in a car failed to stop when instructed to and responded by firing at police, with the police returning fire killing all five in Putra Heights, Subang Jaya at around 11.30pm on 29 March.

What is shocking is that no one was arrested – or injured and arrested. Were the police in uniform and in an easily identifiable police car?

No body-worn cameras or video recordings to reveal the truth. All we have, it seems, are the words of the police officers involved in the killing. The truth must be independently verified fast.

Coroner must act

The coroner must act immediately hold an inquiry into the deaths and establish whether the police are criminally liable or not. The coroner must immediately step in and independently investigate and then hold a speedy inquest or inquiry into the death.

The coroner looks into the ’cause of death’, which “includes not only the apparent cause of death as ascertainable by inspection or post-mortem examination of the body of the deceased, but also all matters necessary to enable an opinion to be formed as to the manner in which the deceased came by his death and as to whether his death resulted in any way from, or was accelerated by, any unlawful act or omission on the part of any other person”.

Shoot to arrest or kill?

We recall that on 31 May 2023, the coroner’s court, presided by Coroner Rasyihah Ghazali, for a police shooting that resulted in the death of three men, concluded that there was abuse of power and elements of a criminal nature in the death of three men who were shot at close range by police three years ago.

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“The shots were not fired in self-defence. There was abuse of power and (actions in the nature of) criminal elements by police in the death of the men,”… She said police witnesses gave evidence that shots were fired at the men from an upright position but post-mortem reports stated that the bullets pierced their bodies at a downward angle. … “The weapons described by the ballistic expert (Izzuwan Marzuki) and the investigating officer (P Visvanathan) were also in conflict.”

 

Prevent tampering of evidence

We are reminded that the police can and may tamper with the evidence.

For example, in the case of the custodial death of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur who died in 2014, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) found attempts to obscure evidence from the 25-year-old’s interrogation that resulted in 61 separate injuries on various parts of his body.

The EAIC also stated that there was tampering of evidence by the police, including the cleaning up of the incident area before it was visited and examined, the disposal of a rubber mat and carpet at the place of arrest which was believed to have bloodstains of the deceased, and the hiding or removal of eyewitnesses to the incident.

Hence, the need for the coroner to act fast and not just rely on the police when the killing was caused by fellow police officers. There is a need for investigating officers, not the police, to assist the coroner discover the truth based on facts, not tampered or tainted evidence.

The national human rights commission Suhakam should also speedily look into this matter.

IPCC can also start investigation

The Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) can also commence investigations, as this is a matter of public interest.

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Section 32 of the Independent Police Conduct Commission Act 2022 Act states: “the Commission may commence an investigation of misconduct on its own initiative but only if the Commission is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so whether or not there is a complaint of misconduct relating to it.”

The IPCC have the power to examine persons, obtain documents and other things – but then what they end up doing at the end is classification and referring the cases to the relevant authority to act on it.

So, in this case of police killing, it will most likely end up being sent back to the police to further investigate and prosecute.

It is best the IPCC be abolished and a really independent police complaints and misconduct commission (IPCMC) be established with the ability to carry out a public inquiry and prosecute police officers who have broken the law.

The IPCC, unlike the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), does not have a duty to make public their findings.

Section 30(5) of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Act 2009 states: “The Commission shall make public its finding and inform the complainant of its finding and any action taken by the Disciplinary Authority or the Public Prosecutor…’.

Police probe must be professional

Note that the police too must professionally investigate the killing of the five and should not hesitate to prosecute police officers who commit crimes.

Independence compromised?

However, from media reports, the police may be ‘compromised’, and one wonders whether they can independently and professionally investigate this case.

About 10 hours after the shooting incident, media reports, possibly from police sources, said the five dead were “believed to be involved in more than 50 armed robbery cases around the Klang Valley in the past two years”.

READ MORE:  Extrajudicial killings: Is the coroner already inquiring into this death?

Police believe that at the time of their arrest, all the suspects had plans to commit armed robbery. There has been no mention about investigating the police officers responsible for the killing, whilst attention has been on the ‘justification’ that the five dead victims are ‘bad people’.

If they are truly crime suspects over the past two years, why were they not arrested sooner and investigated? Why were they not charged in court?

The presumption of innocence applies until one is convicted by a court, and so all the five deceased should be considered innocent victims.

The media too need to be careful in their reporting not paint a negative picture of the five deceased simply because the police say so. They may have become suspects only after they were killed.

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) urges for an immediate investigation by the coroner, Suhakam and even the IPCC into this matter of public interest where the police ended up shooting five innocent persons dead. No one was injured and arrested, or arrested. The duty of the police is to arrest and investigate, and it is the court that convicts and sentences – thus making all these killings extrajudicial killings.

It is sad that the media fail to report the coroner’s findings of these cases where people are shot dead by the police. This is important to determine whether what the police said soon after the shootings was true or fake.

Charles Hector issued this statement on behalf of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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