Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Inquest for all Police Shot Dead Victims - Extrajudicial Killing Must Be Criminalized in Malaysia

Everytime the police shoots someone dead, it is an extrajudicial killing and the police need to prove that it was in accordance with law...and it was an attempt to arrest that went wrong. INQUEST(Inquiries into the death) by Magistrate should be held for all who die at the hands of the police...

Media Statement – 17/9/2019

Inquest for all Police Shot Dead Victims To Ensure Also

No Breach of Law by Police 

Extrajudicial Killing Must Be Criminalized in Malaysia

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) calls for inquests for all deaths caused by police shootings to determine that it was in compliance with law, and that there was no person who is ‘criminally concerned in the cause of the death.’ The law is clear about the powers of the police, and there is a need to establish that the police did not break the laws – and certainly did not murder anyone.

Of late, we have come across two media reports of police shooting in resulted in deaths of all the alleged suspects.

In a Star 15/9/2019 report, it stated that the police after a 7km chase fired 6 shots and killed 3 suspects, and the police later found 2 pistols and a machete were discovered. In this case, the police was reported saying, “We are now trying to identify the suspects but we believe they might have been responsible for a high number of house break-ins,…”

On 27/8/2019, Malay Mail reported that police shot dead 3 persons after they allegedly shot twice at the police, whereby in this case, there was only one gun found. The police was reported saying that the suspects were yet to be identified, but that they are believed to be remnants of a gang ‘…responsible for 15 factories break-ins and robbery cases involving about RM620,000…’. 

Shooting someone shooting at you with a gun may be justified, but shooting dead persons without a gun raises questions. Police duty is to arrest and not shoot a person dead.

Media may report some but not all incidents, and as such one wonders about the number of people shot dead by the Malaysian police, as these are also extrajudicial killings. Were there any inquests conducted for all these deaths by reason of police shooting?

When the police shoot dead alleged suspects, media reports the police version of what happened, and it is often noted that the police are quick to make suggestions that link the dead to other past crimes. This, itself, raises concerns about the killings. There is a need for an independent inquiry into these shootings and death.

If they were ‘suspects’, why were they not previously arrested and investigated? Were there even arrest warrants out for their arrests? 

Unfortunately, we also do not have follow-up media reports that tell people that the police have positively identified the dead, and has secured evidence linking them to the alleged past crimes, if at all.

Other questions that arises, is whether the police even followed the arrest procedures – did they even try to arrest? Or did they merely shoot to kill?

The police may be telling us the truth but this really is not enough. We need independent inquiries into these death by the Magistrate/Judge and this procedure is provided by our law.

In our Criminal Procedure Code, section 337 states that “A Magistrate holding an inquiry shall inquire when, where, how and after what manner the deceased came by his death and also whether any person is criminally concerned in the cause of the death.’

As such, the Magistrate can inquire and make a finding whether the death was caused by the police acting in accordance to law. Was there no possibility of arrest?

Remember that our law gives the police the power to arrest and not to kill. Force could be used in certain cases but the object must always be ‘…to effect the arrest…’

Section 15(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code about arrest states, ‘(2) If such person forcibly resist the endeavor to arrest him or attempt to evade the arrest such officer or other person may use all means necessary to effect the arrest.’. This section also states in subsection (3), Nothing in this section gives a right to cause the death of a person who is not accused of an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life.

Clearly many, if not all, of these persons who have been shot dead by the police are at most merely ‘suspects’, and are not yet ‘accused’ for they only become the ‘accused’ after they have been charged in court.

Hence, those shot to dead can only be unavoidable ‘accidents’, at best, when the police tried to effect the arrest of the said persons/suspects. It would also be good for the police if the findings of the inquest comes to a similar conclusion.

Inquests, after all, must be conducted in all cases, except in the limited exceptions provided for in law.

Section 333 of the Criminal Procedure Code states, ’(1) If the Magistrate shall be satisfied as to the cause of death without holding an inquiry under this Chapter, he shall report to the Public Prosecutor the cause of death as ascertained to his satisfaction with his reasons for being so satisfied and shall at the same time transmit to the Public Prosecutor all reports and documents in his possession connected with the matter. (2) In all other cases the Magistrate shall proceed as soon as may be to hold an inquiry under this Chapter.’

It must be pointed out that the word "cause of death" in the law is defined to ‘… include 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…’

The only other situation where a Magistrate need not hold an inquiry is when ‘… if any criminal proceedings have been instituted against any person in respect of any act connected with the death of the deceased or such hurt as caused the death….’ 

Therefore, save for cases of clear death by natural causes like old age and sickness, there is a need for the Magistrate to conducts inquiry into the deaths, and that certainly should include deaths caused by police shootings and death in police custody. 

The Criminal Procedure Code provides specific provisions covering Inquiry into cause of death of a person in custody of police or in any asylum (Section 334). 

However, the then ‘…Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob said yesterday the law governing deaths of persons in police custody was clearly set out in Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code. “From my reading of it, it is mandatory to hold inquests to ascertain the cause of death. “And if that is the law, how is it possible that in 22 death cases, officers of the court have seen it fit to make decisions that no inquests were necessary?” Siti Norma asked…’(Star, 2/4/2006)

It is important that the Malaysian government now reassures us that inquests are today being carried out in all death in custody cases.

It is also important that the government informs that inquests are being conducted in all cases where death occurred by alleged reason of being shot dead by police and/or some other enforcement officers.

In 2014, the then government announced the creation of the permanent Coroners Court, which was to begin operations from 15/4/2014. The then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Nancy Shukri also announced that ‘…the appointment of a senior judge acting as a coroner, Nancy hoped this would improve the public's perception over the handling of such cases…’(New Straits Times, 3/4/2014).

It is time to review these Coroner’s court, with a realistic objective of increasing the number of such Coroner’s courts. There is also a need to consider again whether we need to enact a Coroner’s Act like what they have in many jurisdictions like the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 in UK. The UK Act also says that inquest into a death must be held with a jury especially in cases where the death was caused by police, or in cases of death in custody.

Therefore, MADPET

Calls for inquests into all cases of death by reason of police shootings;

Calls for the findings of all inquest including deaths by police by shootings be made public;

Calls for the investigation of cases of police shooting to be conducted by an independent unit, not the police, who will then also assist the Magistrate in the inquest;

Call for the criminalization of extrajudicial killings in Malaysia;

Call on the government to disclose statistics and information about deaths by reason of police shootings, and the steps taken to confirm that these were not extrajudicial killings;

Calls for the Malaysian police to stop ‘defaming’ the dead, by making known their unverified beliefs that the dead, many a time yet to be identified, may have been responsible for past crimes;

Call on Malaysia to consider enacting a Coroners and Justice Act, with possibility of the involvement of a civilian jury, especially in cases where the police are involved in the death, be it by way of police shooting, or death in police custody.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Three armed robbers shot dead in Gombak by cops

Sunday, 15 Sep 2019

Comm Noor Azam (middle) showing the pistols seized while Gombak deputy OCPD Supt Arsad Kamaruddin (right) and Gombak CID chief DSP Zainuddin Zakaria looked on during the press conference.

GOMBAK: A gang of three robbers was killed after a 7km high-speed chase and shoot-out with police.

A team of police personnel was patrolling near Bandar Country Homes when they stumbled upon the three men, who were in a red Volkswagen Polo, at about 5am yesterday.

When they were instructed to pull over for inspection, the robbers instead sped off. They even tried to graze their car against the police patrol car in an effort to flee.

However, after 7km, police personnel managed to corner them near Batu Arang town.
Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Noor Azam Jamaludin said with nowhere to run, the robbers fired three shots, forcing the police to return fire.

“The police personnel fired six shots at the three men. The suspects were killed,” he told a press conference at the Gombak police district headquarters yesterday.

Two pistols, a machete, three ski masks and gloves were among the items seized from the suspects, he added.

“A check on the vehicle used by the suspects revealed that it was reported stolen in a house break-in in Rawang on Aug 5.

“The car belonged to the victim, who had alleged that police were late in responding to the 999 call reporting the house break-in,” he said.

In a recent Facebook post, the victim, Thivyah Veelurajan, said police did not arrive at her home in time after three masked men had broken in at 2.30am on Aug 5.

She said she had called the 999 emergency hotline for help and was told she should have called the Police “Bilik Gerakan” (Operations Room) instead.

The case is being looked into by the Selangor Integrity and Standard Compliance Department (JIPS).

Comm Noor Azam said police believed the three suspects were responsible for a string of house break-ins.

“We believe they were in the midst of searching for targets when we stumbled upon them.

“We are now trying to identify the suspects but we believe they might have been responsible for a high number of house break-ins,” he said.

In Selangor, 60 cases of house break-ins have been reported between May and September, Comm Noor Azam added.

“Some 80% of the cases were carried out between 3am and 6am.

“Their modus operandi would be to break into houses in a team of three or more, wearing ski masks and armed with weapons.

“They were highly dangerous,” he said. - Star, 14/9/2019

Three foreigners killed in shootout after high-speed chase in Penang

(From left) deputy CPO Datuk Roslee Chik, Penang CPO Datuk T. Narenasagaran and chief of Commercial Crime and Investigation Datuk Zainol Samah during a press conference in George Town August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
(From left) deputy CPO Datuk Roslee Chik, Penang CPO Datuk T. Narenasagaran and chief of Commercial Crime and Investigation Datuk Zainol Samah during a press conference in George Town August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
GEORGE TOWN, Aug 27 — Three foreigners believed to be part of a gang specialising in factory burglaries died in an early morning shootout after leading police on a high-speed car chase here.

In the 2am incident at the Permatang Tinggi Industrial area in Bukit Mertajam, the three men sped off in a red Toyota Camry when approached by a police team while parked by the roadside.

Penang police chief Datuk T. Narenasagaran said this triggered a high-speed chase after which the driver of the Toyota lost control and veered into a ditch.

“They immediately got out of the car and fired two shots at the police,” he said, adding that one of the three came out with a machete. 

He said the police team returned fire and killed all three on the spot.

Narenasagaran said the suspects, believed to be aged between 20 and 30, had fired off a .38 Colt revolver.
“We are still trying to identify the suspects, their nationality and whether there are other members in their gang,” he said in a press conference at the Penang police headquarters today. 

A revolver and other items seized during a shootout incident this morning are seen at the Penang police headquarters in George Town August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A revolver and other items seized during a shootout incident this morning are seen at the Penang police headquarters in George Town August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
The police believe there are remnants of the gang that is thought to have operated since last year and was known for targeting isolated factories.

He said there has been a slew of break-ins in the area, with the most recent being about 50m from the site of the incident.

“We have been monitoring and patrolling the area last night as there was a tip-off that the suspects would be acting soon,” he said.

He said the gang would usually enter from the rear of the factory before overwhelming the guard on duty.

“They will then enter the office and force open the safe there and empty it,” he said.

The gang is believed to be responsible for 15 factories break-ins and robbery cases involving about RM620,000.

The gang members are also believed to be experts in cracking open safes.

After the shootout this morning, the police seized the car, a revolver, four bullets, two spent casings, two steel cutters, angle grinders, one machete and other tools commonly used to break into factories and safes. - Malay Mail, 27/8/2019

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