Police have nothing to hide over A Ganapathy’s death, says outgoing Gombak police chief Arifai Tarawe who has withdrawn his RM10 million lawsuit against news portal Free Malaysia Today which he had initiated over two articles on his forthcoming transfer to Bukit Aman.
Arifai is due to be transferred to Bukit Aman’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department on June 21, and FMT reported the transfer with the headlines ‘Under-fire Gombak police chief transferred to Integrity Unit’ and ‘Ketua polis daerah Gombak ditukarkan ke Unit Integriti Bukit Aman’.
It highlighted that at the time the transfer was announced, Arifai and the Gombak police department were in the spotlight over the alleged custodial death of Ganapathy.
In an interview with the news portal, Arifai said that he was upset the reports on his transfer had included background on Ganapathy’s case.
“But after giving it some thought, I realised that there was no intention to portray me in a negative light, and that the press was just doing its job in reporting the news.
“That is why I decided it was best to resolve the dispute amicably with FMT. We agreed to meet, I explained my position and FMT made it clear there was no intention to cast me or my officers in a bad light.
“I am withdrawing the suit against FMT,” he said.
Arifai promised transparency in the ongoing investigation into alleged abuse of Ganapathy while in police custody.
He said that the case and the subsequent death of S Sivabalan, who allegedly died about 70 minutes after he was arrested by Gombak police on May 20, have greatly affected the morale of his officers and family members.
“Ganapathy’s death, and then Sivabalan’s death…these are some things that deeply upset us. No police officer wants any harm to come to any detainee, and I would like to say again on record, we did not harm any detainee under our custody.
“Having been in the public eye for years, I am used to criticism, but I was really cut up when my children told me their friends said their father is a ‘bad guy’.
“They know what their friends are saying isn’t true, but they still feel hurt, and as a father, I feel heartbroken seeing them sad,” he said.
Arifai said that allegations of abuse or police misconduct are damaging to members of the force, adding that it was hard to change perceptions on the matter.
“Who wants these types of labels? It doesn’t make sense that we would want to conduct ourselves in a way that leads the public to view us in a bad light.
“In the police, our creed is ‘society and the police are inseparable’, so we never want the public to see us in a bad light.”
He said this is why he had stated that he is open to an inquest after investigations are complete.
Ganapathy was reportedly arrested on Feb 24 to assist in a probe linked to his brother who was wanted by the police. On March 11, the deceased’s mother, S Thanaletchumy, claimed that her son was beaten while in custody.
The claim was made after she was contacted by a police officer on March 8, only to be informed that her son was freed and being treated at Selayang Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
Ganapathy died in the hospital on April 18.
Police are also investigating two Malaysiakini journalists over the Ganapathy case.
They have also hauled in Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman over a video he posted calling for justice in the case.
Arifai denied that Ganapathy was ill-treated, saying that he had received a supply of medication from his family the same day he informed them of his diabetes and heart condition.
“We brought Ganapathy to the Magistrate’s Court three times and the hospital four times and not once did he tell the judge or medical personnel that he had been abused by the police,” he said. – Malaysiakini
Earlier report: May 20, Gombak police chief demands RM10m, apology from FMT over transfer articles