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Family in custodial death case wins negligence suit

GEORGE TOWN: Family members of Cheah Chin Lee, who died in police custody, won their negligence suit against the Federal Government, Rela and the police.  
Cheah's mother Lim Gaik Suan, 71, and sister Cheah Saw Imm, 51, were awarded RM184,000 with 5% interest from the date of filing their suit on Aug 18, 2015, until the verdict.  
They had named the Federal Government, the then Inspector-General Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, the then Rela director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim and 14 Rela members and policemen as defendants.  
High Court Judicial Commissioner Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed said the defendants were liable for Chin Lee's death in the lock-up at Tanjung Tokong police station.  
“The police should ensure the safety of detainees from the time of arrest,” he said on Friday.  
He awarded both Lim and Saw Imm RM114,000 in dependency claim, RM20,000 in exemplary damages, RM15,000 as funeral expenses and RM35,000 as court fees.  
The plaintiffs were represented by M. Visvanathan and Chan Yen Hui while Senior Federal Counsel Rahazlan Affandi Abdul Rahim acted for the defendants.  
Chin Lee, 36, was found dead between 5.07am and 5.30am on Aug 13, 2012, a few hours after he was taken into police custody for allegedly trying to steal a motorcycle on the same day.  
A closed-circuit television camera footage of the lockup where Chin Lee was found dead showed that he was alone in the cell.  
On May 22, 2015, a Coroner’s Court found that Chin Lee committed suicide while in police custody.  
Magistrate L. Umma Devi, sitting as coroner, delivered her findings at the close of the inquest which went on for two years.
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