Finally, a clear message to the police and government of Malaysia about how they should be treating persons.
KUALA LUMPUR: A housewife who won a negligence suit against the police and Government over her husband's death while in police custody in 1999, was Wednesday awarded RM1.4mil in damages after appealing to the High Court.
On Oct 20 last year, the High Court held that the police were liable for the death of Suzana Md Aris's husband, Mohd Anuar Sharip, who was under detention at the Gombak police station lock-up for suspected drug addiction.
Suzana was subsequently awarded RM137,000 by High Court Senior Assistant Registrar Faerah Nurul Ainni Izany but her cross-appeal was heard Wednesday.
In his ruling, Judicial Commissioner Lee Swee Seng said death in police custody was a most disturbing and distressing matter and everyone, whether a drug addict or a decent person, should be treated with dignity and respect.
"Let the message go forth from this place that any more deaths in police custody is one too many. Steps must be taken so that the basic human right of a detained person to seek medical treatment, in this case a suspected drug addict, should be immediately attended to," he said.
He awarded Suzana RM200,000 for each of her two children for dependency claim, aggravated damages of RM500,000, exemplary damages of RM500,000 and 8% interest from the date of her husband's death on Aug 19, 1999.
Suzana, who lives in Selayang Baru, said she was grateful for the decision because the compensation would enable her to buy a house.
"Now I am renting (a house). After my husband's death, I had to work part-time to provide for my two boys, who were aged two and eight years then. Now they are already 13 and 19 years old," said Suzana, who is 43.
Her husband, who was 31 years old when he died, was a trader at a wholesale market, she said.
A post-mortem revealed Mohd Anuar died of bronchial pneumonia.
Suzana filed a suit in 2000 against Gombak police chief DSP Ishak Hussain, district CID chief ACP Massari Hashim, then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai and the Government.
Norian and the Government had also counter-appealed the initial RM137,000 award.
On Oct 20 last year, High Court Judge Datuk Kang Hwee Gee (now Court of Appeal Judge) ruled that the police were negligent and failed to take reasonable care of Mohd Anuar while he was in their custody.
In his ruling, he dismissed the plantiff's case against the first and second defendants, ruling there was no evidence that they were culpable but upheld the claim against Norian, as the head of the country's police force, and the Government, as his employer.
Suzana, in her statement of claim, said her husband was arrested on Aug 10, 1999, at their house on suspicion of being a drug addict and was detained at the Rawang police station lock-up.
Eight days later, her husband complained to one of the policemen at the lock-up that he had stomach ache.
He was then brought to a clinic but a day later, he died in the lock-up. - Bernama - Star, 30/6/2010,Housewife awarded RM1.4mil over husband's death in police custody