At approximately 7:15 p.m. on May 10, 2004 Ponnusamy Uthayakumar was en route from his office on Jalan Medang Tandok road in the Bangsar area of Kuala Lumpur to his home when he was attacked by three unidentified persons. Uthayakumar reported that at least three cars blocked the road preventing him from continuing to drive. One of the attackers had a sledge hammer; another pointed a gun at Mr. Uthayakumar. Mr. Uthayakumar was able to escape, but did sustain injuries to his body, face and head. On May 7, 2004 Mr. Uthayakumar’s brother received an anonymous caller warning that if Mr. Uthayakumar would be killed if he did not “stop fooling around with the police”[AI Internal Appeal]. This attack is feared to be related to Mr. Uthayakumar’s work on the high profile case of Francis Udayapan, who allegedly died in police custody.
Mr. Uthayakumar has filed a report with the police alleging the attack was carried out by, or on the orders of members of the police force. He requested the recently established Royal Commission on Police investigate this attack. A decision on this request is still pending. [AI Internal Appeal]. Mr. Uthayakumar has also applied for police protection and a firearms license to protect himself; he did not receive a response to either application.
This incident was not the first time Mr. Uthayakumar had been the target of harassment. On April 27, 2004 the windshield of his car was smashed, and on April 30, 2004 he was arrested with eleven others while they were about to file a complaint concerning the death of a 23 year old while in police custody. He was also held in custody for two days in January 2003 after he attending an inquiry regarding another death in custody case. During his time in custody Mr. Uthayakumar was stripped to his underwear, photographed and videotaped in front of nine police officers. He was also denied legal representation. He was charged under S.228 (contempt of Court) and S.506 of the Penal Code (criminal intimidation), but both charges were dropped after protest from the Bar Council of Malaysia. The charges were found to be in bad faith. [The Observatory. MYS 001 / 0504 / OBS 037].
On May 20, 2004 Mr. Uthayakumar fled to London in fear for his life. He is seeking the assistance of NGOs and human rights defenders in taking up his cause.
LRWC is deeply troubled by the attacks on Mr. Uthayakumar, and saddened that the harassment has escalated to the point he felt he must leave the country. We also fear for the safety of other member of Police Watch Malaysia who remain in the country and continue to work on the Francis Udayapan case. A letter will be sent by LRWC to various members of the Malaysian Government on Mr. Uthayakumar’s behalf.
For updates on this case please go to: www.policewatchmalaysia.com
A letter written by Monique Pongracic-Speier was sent.