The police today dismissed claims that they have shot and killed an innocent Sri Lankan national and had labelled him as a wanted criminal.
Selangor police chief Noor Azam Jamaluddin said they have found no record of Janarthan Vijayaratnam – a Sri Lankan national with a United Kingdom (UK) permanent resident status – of entering Malaysia on August 27 as had been claimed by his family.
Janarthan was one of the suspected robbers who were shot dead by police in a shootout in Rawang last Saturday. Police said the men were involved in a number of house robberies.
“Checks showed that there was no record of entrance by Janarthan on August 27. The only record was of his wife Moganambal Govindasamy, who is now missing,” said Noor Azam.
The top cop said Janarthan previously overstayed in the country and was supposed to leave Malaysia under a rehiring programme in 2013.
“He was supposed to leave in 2013, however in 2016, his name emerged as a suspect in a robbery incident in Sentul. The person who mentioned his name to the cops as one of the robbers was Maghendran Santhirasegaran, who died together with Janarthan last Saturday in the shootout,” Noor Azam said.
Reportedly, Janarthan was believed to be one of the shooters who had opened fire at the chasing cops.
“The two shooters were sitting in the front seat of the Volkswagen car. We believe Janarthan was one of them,” an officer was quoted as saying.
Asked if it is true that Janarthan holds a UK permanent residence status, the cops said that they are in the midst of investigating the claim.
“We are probing into the matter. We will get the clarification from the British embassy,” he added.
On Saturday night, Janarthan, together with his brother in law, Thavaselvan Govindaaamy and Maghendran, were killed in a shootout after a 7km high-speed chase with police.
“Two of the robbers fired shots at police, forcing police to fire six shots at them. The robbers were killed,” Noor Azam told a press conference at the Gombak police headquarters on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Noor Azam again said Moganambal, Janarthan’s wife, was not in the car when the incident happened.
“There were only three people in the car. There was no woman,” he said while confirming that a police report was lodged by Moganambal’s sister on her disappearance.
“A missing person report has been opened. We are investigating the matter,” Noor Azam added.
Commenting on the outrage from the public on the killing of the three suspected robbers, Noor Azam said he is open to any investigation including from the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
“I have got nothing to hide. They are welcome to probe and I will cooperate,” he said.
Noor Azam later said Maghendran and Thavaselvan were both wanted suspects for at least 15 robbery cases.
“We do not know if Janartham was part of the group because there was no record of him entering the country after 2013. So, we do not know where he was but his name came up in a robbery incident in 2016,” Noor Azam said.
Last Saturday evening, policemen spotted a car “moving suspiciously” in Rawang, according to Noor Azam.
He said the driver defied orders to pull over and this led to a chase.
“Subsequently, the car crashed and gunshots rang out. The policemen had to return fire,” Noor Azam said.
“We were acting according to the situation.”
Apparently, Janarthanan and Moganambal arrived in Malaysia on Aug 27 with their three children to visit their family.
Janarthanan, Thavaselvan, Maghendran and Moganambal left for a meal in Serdang on Saturday evening, the night of the incident.
Yesterday, Moganambal’s family lodged a complaint to Suhakam, demanding answers about the circumstances of the incident.
Lawyer R Sivahnanthan, who is representing the family of the Sri Lankan national and his wife, questioned how the man could have been involved in a string of house break-ins as the couple had been in the country for only two weeks.
Sivahnanthan told a press conference yesterday that there were contradictions in the statements made by the police.
“The Selangor police chief said they believed the men were responsible for a string of house break-ins. But Janarthanan is an oil and gas company manager. They were financially well-to-do. So how could they be members of a criminal gang?”
Suhakam commissioner Gerald Joseph said there were questions that needed to be answered and that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.
He added that Suhakam would get both sides of the story and would obtain more details of the incident from the police.
“We will also interview the forensic doctors who carried out the post-mortems. The families should be allowed access to the full report and we hope the police will speed up their investigations.”
He also said police must expedite efforts to find Moganambal.
On allegations of high-handedness by the police, Noor Azam said there was a need to ascertain the identities of the men via the National Registration Department (NRD) before he could comment further.
He said this could not be done earlier because the NRD was closed for the long weekend.
“The families of the deceased may have identified them, but we will still need official confirmation.”
Noor Azam said police had stepped up surveillance in response to a steep surge in house break-ins and robberies since May, especially in areas such as Rawang, Klang and Banting.
“If we are suspicious, we will stop vehicles to check. There is no need to fear or attempt to escape if one has nothing to hide,” he added.