Gravedigger died in police custody – government ordered to pay his mother RM197,600 – but...

Government makes bid to quash RM197,600 damages awarded to gravedigger’s mother

In May, the government was ordered to pay Fadhelah Othman RM197,600 in damages after it was found liable for her son’s death in a police station lock-up. 

In PUTRAJAYA, a news portal from the mainstream media, FMT, reported on Friday 21st of June, 2024, the government is seeking to set aside a High Court decision that held it liable and awarded RM197,600 in damages to the mother of a gravedigger who died in police custody five years ago. 

Lawyer Encik M Visvanathan said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had filed an application to obtain leave of the court since the damages awarded total less than RM250,000.

“The AGC served us a copy of the cause papers yesterday. We will oppose the leave application,” the news portal quoted him as saying.

Under Section 68 of the Courts of Judicature Act, an appellant has no automatic right of appeal when a judgment sum is below RM250,000. 

In the High Court in George Town, Penang, on May 20, Justice Encik Anand Ponnudurai found the police negligent as they failed to prevent the late Encik Fadzrin Zaidi, 29, from committing suicide while under their custody. 

Anand ordered Putrajaya to pay Fadzrin’s mother, Puan Fadhelah Othman, RM197,600 in damages, RM57,600 in dependency costs, RM30,000 in bereavement costs, RM50,000 in aggravated damages, special damages of RM10,000 and costs of RM50,000. 

The judge said the police had breached the duty of care owed to Fadzrin by failing to carry out regular patrols which could have prevented his death. He said such patrols were a requirement under the 1953 Lock-up Rules. 

Anand found the government, as the employer of the police force, vicariously liable for negligence. 

Fadzrin was detained during a drug raid in 2019 and was found dead in his cell at the Kepala Batas police station two days later. His death certificate stated that the cause of death was “consistent with hanging”. 

Coroner Puan Norsalha Hamzah had earlier ruled that Fadzrin had committed suicide, citing CCTV footage and testimony from nine witnesses. 

She found that Fadzrin had wanted to take his own life, based on video footage shown in court. 

She said there were no criminal elements leading to his death, and that Fadzrin was likely “ashamed to have been caught by police as he was about to get married soon”.

The appearance and act on the above video are for illustration purpose only.


Adapted by Fauzi Kadir
Chief Editor

Assistant Editor
Rahayu Mansor

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