PUTRAJAYA (Feb 6): Family members of security guard C Sugumar today gathered at the Health Ministry to demand a quicker execution of the second post-mortem, two weeks after his death in police custody.
N Surendran, a lawyer representing the family, said that although the police consented to a second autopsy on Jan 31, they have yet to issue an approval letter.
"The hospital will not carry the post mortem unless they receive this approval from the police.
"There is a lack of pity and compassion from the authorities as the family goes to the hospital only to be pushed to the police and vice-versa," he told reporters outside the ministry.
The purpose of the gathering was to get a letter from the ministry to facilitate Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand to conduct the second post-mortem as requested by the family.
Family lawyers say Pornthip - who conducted former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock's second post-mortem and subsequently testified that there could be possible foul play involved in his death - has agreed to conduct the autopsy.
According to Surendren, the family's agony can be put to rest by invoking Section 16 of the Medical Act which allows the granting of temporary permission to foreign experts to conduct post-mortems in Malaysia.
A letter requesting this permission was sent a few days ago to Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
However, in its reply, the Health Ministry said that the permission needed has to be obtained from the Inspector-General of Police.
A baffled Surendran, who is also PKR vice-president, asked what the IGP had to do with the approval under the Heath Ministry's jurisdiction.
A group of 30 people including lawyer Latheefa Koya, Kapar MP S Manikavasagam and PKR member S Jayathas earlier held a 30-minute sit-in protest at the ministry's lobby as they could not meet with the minister or any of the director-generals.
After talking with the ministry's corporate communications personnel, five representatives, including two family members, were allowed to meet ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Dr Azhar Yahya and medical development director Datuk Dr Azmi Shafie. Azmi said a letter granting the permission sought will be given to the family today.
"We are not leaving this place until the letter is issued to us. It has been two weeks since his death, the body is rotting in the mortuary," said Surendran.
The first post-mortem, conducted at Serdang Hospita, showed Sugumar died from clogged arteries. But the family, suspecting a cover-up, called for a second autopsy by a neutral doctor.
Police say Sugumar, who was believed to have experienced mental disturbance and allegedly damaged public property with a steel pole on Jan 23, died after they had calmed him down.
But according to eye-witnesses, Sugumar was chased down by the police, handcuffed, beaten and smeared with turmeric.