Malaysia panel to probe 2 ethnic Indians' custodial deaths

Singapore, June 12 (IANS) Malaysia's Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) has named an eight-member panel, including two independent consultants, to investigate the death in police custody of two Indian-origin men in that country.

EAIC chairperson Heliliah Mohammad Yusof said the panel has been tasked with thoroughly investigating the cases of N. Dhamendran, 32, who died in the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur May 21, and of R. James Ramesh, 40, who died in police custody in Penang state May 26, according to media reports Wednesday.

Former deputy inspector general of police Mohd. Jamil Johari and former Malaysian Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee have been named as independent consultants in the panel to ensure that the information gathered is accurate, Heliliah said.

"They (the independent consultants) will be going through the report compiled at the end of each (inquiry) session and give the task force their opinions because we want to get to the bottom of the case," she was quoted as telling the media.

While Heliliah herself will be one of the two supervisors of the panel, the other being former Sarawak state assembly speaker Robert Jacob Ridu, other members of the panel are the EAIC's operation division director Ahmad Razif Mohd. Sidek, who will act as the panel's secretary; policy, research and innovation division director Foo Hui Yi; legal adviser Eda Mazuin Abdul Rahman and investigating officer Mohd Nadzri Ibrahim.

The investigation will be carried out under Section 20 of the EAIC Act.

When asked if a time-frame has been set for the panel to submit its report, Heliliah replied in the negative, saying that would be not reasonable.

A total of 64 Malays, 30 Chinese and 28 Indians have died in police custody between 2000 and 2010 in Malaysia.

However, there have been more cases involving Indians in the last two years.

Ethnic Indians comprise a little over seven percent of Malaysia's total population of nearly 30 million.