Feb 26, 2010

Suhakam's Investigation on Raja Azman

Lawyers for Raja Azman Petra charged that the investigation conducted on the plight of their client by Suhakam had been neither fair nor thorough.

Yesterday the national human rights council Suhakam had conducted an investigation at the Sungai Buloh prison of allegations that the son of prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin had been tortured.

Siva Subramaniam, heading the investigation had cleared prison authorities of any wrongdoings and claimed that Raja Azman's wounds were self inflicted.

However, both lawyers J Chandra and Amarjit Singh Sidhu are unhappy over the way the investigation was carried out.

"Why are we not called for the investigation?" Amarjit asked.

Chandra expressed shock that the probe took place in the absence of Raja Azman's lawyers.

He explained that it was important for counsel to be present to ensure that the interview is conducted in the right manner.

"Inmates might be pressured to give answers just to appease the authorities," Chandra said.

They explained that the intimidating nature of the prison environment for the inmates makes it difficult to get at the truth.

"The prison is not the right place for an interview because the inmates are afraid," Chandra said.

Amarjit concurred, saying that the interview should have been done in a place where the inmates are not afraid to voice out their grievances.

"But here, they are put under a microscope and everyone is watching and listening to what they have to say," Amarjit explained.

The interview should have been, Amarjit said conducted in a neutral place, perhaps at Suhakam's office.

He added that Raja Azman appeared cheerful probably due to fear of repercussions from the authorities once Suhakam members left.

Most importantly,Chandra said is the origin of the razor blade.

"How did Raja Azman obtain the razor blade?" he asked.

Amarjit shot down the explanations given by Suhakam's commissioner that razor blades smuggled into prisons is normal occurrence.

"If blades can be smuggled, then the prison security must be useless," he said.

Chandra further questioned Suhakam's findings that the blade that Raja Azman had swallowed was old and blunt.

"How do they know that the blade was old and blunt?" he asked since it was found after exiting the inmate's system.

Amarjit claimed that the injuries on Raja Azman were not merely scratches.

"I saw him when he was just hospitalised and I could see that there were real cuts. Suhakam only visited him after almost three weeks, of course they look like scratches to them," he said.

Amarjit added that Raja Azman (left) had told him of the abuse when he was in the hospital and the prison wardens were not within earshot.

"He told me that he had asked for hot water from the guard, but was refused. When he questioned the guard, he was pulled out and slapped," he said.

Thereafter, he said he was then put into a cell with five other inmates. But the room was meant for only three people.

"He spend three days in the room and was mentally stressed before the self-inflicted injuries," said Amarjit.

Raja Azman's theft charges hearing is scheduled for March 2 and 3.

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