Rabu, 28 Januari 2009

Two detained, police await Kugan funeral

By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Two men wearing Hindraf T-shirts were arrested as police threw a tight cordon around the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) for suspected car thief A. Kugan's funeral procession.
Police are only allowing 50 people, including family and several lawmakers, to claim Kugan's body which will be first taken to the USJ8 Taipan police station for prayers before going to the Puchong Batu 14 crematorium for the last rites.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said family and friends are paying their respects at the mortuary five at a time. Police had earlier chased away reporters and nearly 100 supporters around the mortuary waiting to pay their respects.
The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Light Strike Force had cordoned off the teaching hospital this morning but crowds, responding to text messages, have turned up for the funeral procession. Several tried to go through the barricade but police ordered them to disperse.
Police made the arrests when the crowd were dispersing just after noon. The government had banned the Hindraf movement last year, making all their symbols illegal, after they organised a massive protest in November 2007. Five Hindraf leaders are under ISA detention.
"I don't see why anyone has been arrested. We are not here to make trouble," Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, told reporters.
"They are just here to pay last respects," said Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, who said he will lodge a police report against Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar for making conflicting statements over Kugan's death.
Kugan, a 22-year-old insurance claims executive, was arrested on Jan 14 for allegedly being involved in a luxury car-theft ring. He died on Jan 20 after drinking some water, police claimed. An initial autopsy said he died of "fluid in the lungs".
But the Attorney-General's Chambers have classified the case as murder after an outcry by the family and lawmakers, and a second autopsy over the weekend found external injuries and phlegm in his lungs.
The family and authorities are waiting for detailed toxicological and tissue tests in the final autopsy report.
Critics have said Kugan's death is the latest in custody deaths in Malaysia, mostly among Indians detained by police.
But Hindraf legal advisor S. Tanendran disagreed, saying it is a Malaysian issue, not a racial issue. "Deaths in detention happens to all races," he said.

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