Cold-blooded killing by police: Does the government condone it?

Do unexplained deaths in custody and shootings not damage the image of the police?

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Can the prime minister, home minister and the inspector general of police sleep peacefully with their hands thickly covered with the blood of Muhammad Shamil Hafiz Shapiei, 15, Mohd Hairul Nizam Tuah, 22, and Muhammad Hanafi Omar, 21, who were shot dead by the police at Glenmarie, Shah Alam in the most heinous way?

The cold-blooded shooting took place on 13 November 2010 and the Shah Alam High Court delivered its verdict recently awarding the families over RM1.5m in damages.

The damages, even if increased by tenfold or twentyfold, mean nothing as the lives of the young boys cannot be brought back. Money is not king in such cases.

According to forensic evidence, as reported in Malaysiakini, “the angle of entry bullets, number of bullets fired and the distance they were fired from all negated the police version of events.”

“The post-mortem made it very clear that the police version was not true and what had happened was that the boys were made to kneel, their shirts were pulled over their heads, and they were executed on the spot,” according to lawyer Surendran.

“The bullet entry wound on Syamil was at a 45-degree angle, thus proving that he must have been kneeling. There was also gunshot residue on the shirts showing the bullets were fired from close range,” he added.

This is not the first case of wanton shooting by the police, as if doing target practice on living persons! Just six months before the shooting of these three youths, another one, Aminulrasyid Amzah, was shot dead in April 2010.

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Fifteen years ago, a royal commission set up to look into police misbehaviour, recommended that an independent police complaints and misconduct commission (IPCMC) be set up as the police cannot be allowed to investigate the police. Justice can never be done by the police investigating their own staff for the simple reason that no one will put a rope around one’s own neck, in instances like this around the necks of the inspector general first, then of the home minister and eventually of the prime minister as they are all responsible to ensure such extreme, murderous misbehaviour is absent in the police force.

All the former police chiefs, except Hamid Bador, had been dead against the setting up of the IPCMC. They all knew what was (and is) going on within the fortress walls of the police, eg the never-ending deaths in custody and the shootings outside of those walls. Why then the strong objections to the IPCMC if not to tacitly allow the unlawful happenings to continue without being investigated by independent persons so that the ‘image’ of the police is not damaged? Unfortunately, Hamid was not able to get the IPCMC started before he retired although he had supported its setting up.

Do unexplained deaths in custody and shootings such as of these boys not damage the image of the police? That must affect the morale of the honest officers in the force. So is the morale of the good officers not worth protecting by acting against the bad apples? Or are the good officers expected to ‘graduate’ to the level of the rogue officers?

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Hamid had revealed serious misdeeds in the police just before he retired, but the government is not the least interested in appointing a royal commission to investigate them. By default, this disinterest could mean just one thing: the government is well aware of the goings-on and is happy to let the lawlessness go on for reasons best known to it.

The pathologist(s) who did the post-mortems need to be commended for their clear reports leaving no doubts what had happened, eg the angle of entry of the bullet(s). Such details are critical. If not for these post-mortem reports, the police would have been cleared by the police. That is why the IPCMC is much needed.

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