V Navindran, 32, the first defence witness to testify in the RM100 million death-in-custody suit by Kugan’s mother, also told the court that lock-up rules were not followed with regard to Kugan’s detention.
Navindran (right), who was found guilty by the sessions court in Petaling Jaya last June and jailed three years, said he was not on duty when Kugan was said to be suffering from breathing difficulties about 11.40am on Jan 20, 2009.
“I was supposed to begin work from noon until 4pm that day. At the time, Kugan had been placed in the care of Detective Korporal Silvem and Lans Koperal Sani (full names not cited). So, I do not know what happened to Kugan.
“I arrived early for work that day and saw that Silvem and Sani were guarding and interrogating Kugan.
“Suddenly Silvem, who looked panicky, asked me to find ASP Rodney to seek medical help as Kugan was complaining of difficulty in breathing,” Navindran said in reply to questions from Ramesh Sivakumar, who is his lawyer along with Md Nor Derus.
After seeking Rodney’s permission, he said, he went to a nearby clinic to call a doctor, who then verified that Kugan was dead.
Kugan’s mother, N Indra had named former Selangor police chief and present deputy inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar, Navindran, and Subang Jaya OCPD (the late) ACP Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar.
Prior to being charged in court in October 2009, Navindran said Zainal Rashid had called in all police personnel involved in the custody and control of Kugan.
“This was to determine who among us would be the scapegoat in this case. Finally, I was chosen to be the scapegoat although I was not a willing participant in this,” he said, explaining that no less than 10 people had access to suspects at the Taipan USJ police station.
Five-hour meeting with OCPD
In the afternoon session, Navindran, replying during the cross-examination from lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah, who was appearing for Indra along with Latheefa Koya and L Bani Prakash, said the meeting with Zainal Rashid was held several days after Kugan’s death.
The meeting, he said, began at 2pm and finished at 7pm where Zainal Rashid said the matter could not be covered-up and he wanted to find out who should take the blame for it.
“There was also an officer with the rank of ASP from D5 (the police legal department) in attendance. Zainal Rashid said it would be a big loss for the force if all of us were to be charged for Kugan’s death and he wanted volunteers to be made a scapegoat.
“If there were any volunteers who were willing to take the blame, the police would handle their welfare, and ACP Zainal Rashid said he was willing to pay the lawyers’ expenses,” said Navindran.
However, the witness said as there were no volunteers, the police acted to narrow down the suspects towards causing Kugan’s death.
Navindran said somehow Silvem informed the superior officer that he was the last person to be with Kugan, whereas as mentioned it was not during his watch.
The witness further produced evidence that earlier in the day, he was not at the police station as he had gone out to settle his bills and was only supposed to report for duty at noon on Jan 20, 2009, but he had came in earlier.
Kugan died at about 11.45am on Jan 20, 2009.
Navindran said 13 people who were implicated in Kugan’s death were transferred to do desk duties at the Selangor police contingent headquarters.
However, he said he suspected that he would be made the scapegoat as the others soon left and returned to their tasks, while he remained at headquarters doing desk duty until he was charged.
‘No lock-up in Taipan police station’
Navindran also said Kugan had been subjected to continuous interrogation, with officers taking turns doing so, following his arrest on Jan 15 for suspected car theft.
He said any member of the D9 (serious crimes unit) could go in and out of the Taipan police station and would be exposed to Kugan, as there was no lock-up there.
Navindran said the supply of food and drinks to suspects was done at the discretion and sympathy of police personnel in charge, as they sometimes had to fork out their own money for this.
“Any police station that does not have a lock-up will not have food or drinks prepared. Our superiors were informed but they did not do anything to solve the problem.”
Navindran further said that under lock-up rules, the suspects are to be placed in the lock-up, especially at the Puchong police station, after 6pm and that they can only be brought out with the consent of the investigating officer.
However, he acknowledged that this was not done with regards to Kugan, as he remained at the Taipan police station for the duration of his arrest and until his death.
Senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad appeared for the other defendants.
Hearing continues before Justice VT Singham on Nov 29.