Abdullah Badawi should impose immediate ban on Russian rouelette as police questioning and intimidation technique

Media conference statement - after visiting How Soon Hock,  victim of irresponsible police shooting who lost his left eye
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, should impose an
immediate ban on Russian rouelette as police questioning and intimidation technique in the country.

Together with DAP National Publicity Secretary, Sdr. Ronnie Liu, Selangor DAP state leader K. Kannan and DAP Petaling Jaya Action Team members, I have visited How Soon Hock, 24, carpenter, who lost his right  eye as a result of irresponsible police shooting when How was in police custody at the Puchong police station on Oct. 6 this year.

Today’s press gave prominence to a police statement yesterday that the shooting of How was "not intentional", that a policeman "was returning his pistol to its holster when it suddenly exploded" and hit How, causing his right eye to be blinded.

I do not think the police statement impressed or convinced many Malaysians, as the question uppermost in everyone’s mind is why should any  policeman be "playing" with a pistol in the Puchong police station which could lead to its "sudden explosion" to hurt a detainee rather than another policeman?

The account given by How on his ordeal at  the Puchong police station where he was detained on Oct. 2 after he was overpowered in a Puchong clinic, resulting in the "sudden explosion" of a police pistol which shot out his right eye, is most shocking.

How was taken out of the Puchong police  lock-up on his fifth day of detention, i.e. Oct. 6, where he was subjected to severe beating of his soles with rubber hoses and "electric prod" treatment all over his body, two Russian rouelette treatments where all the bullets except one  in the chamber were taken out and the trigger fired.  Police officers brandished pistols at him, threatening to shoot him. In one such instance, one pistol went off, tore off his right eye. How was later told at the Universiti Hospital that with another half-inch, he would have been killed.

How has been charged with attempted armed robbery with a kitchen knife at a Puchong clinic and is now out on bail of RM3,000.

Whatever wrong How had done, it can be no justification for the police assault and brutality, to the extent that he was subjected twice to Russian rouelette trifling with his life and repeated threats to shoot him - resulting in an "accidental explosion" which tore out his right eye.

It is no use the police claiming that the shooting out of How’s right eye was "not intentional" - just as nobody is going to be impressed if the police claims that a person killed in a Russian rouelette was not really intentional!

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai should give his personal attention to How’s case to end such abuses of police powers. Furthermore, the Home Minister should immediately ban Russian rouelettes as a form of police questioning and intimidation technique, and to classify the use of Russian rouelette by a police officer as a serious breach of police discipline warranting criminal prosecution and dismissal from the police force.

DAP is very concerned about How’s case, not only at the criminal manner the police had handled him  as to shoot out his right eye, but at the number of other people who had been treated in a similar criminal manner while in police custody, including being subjected to the Russian rouelette treatment. Parliament should be told the number of people who had been injured or killed in the process of being given the Russian rouelette treatment while under police custody.

DAP reiterates its call for the appointment of a Police Ombudsman to conduct independent investigations into public complaints against police, whether about gross abuses of power,   misconduct or public dissatisfaction, as for instance, the shooting and blinding of  How Soon Hock while under police questioning and the killing of the mentally unstable Phevarajah Suppiah in Kluang on Tuesday, October 10, 2000 after holding a schoolboy hostage for four hours.

It would be a different matter if  Suppiah had been shot and killed when the police was trying to free the boy hostage, but in actual fact, Suppiah was shot and killed after the police had managed to get the boy away from him after four hours and Suppiah was running towards  a church.

These two cases, together with many other police  shooting cases, like the killing of young Dr. Tai Eng Teck; the killing of  five suspected idnappers, including an eight-month  pregnant woman N. Selvamalar, 31, in Kuala Lumpur; the  shoot-out in Tumpat in which six men were shot dead and fatal police shooting of a Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) teller,  Mohd Zailani Mohd Salleh, in  January 1999 who was mistaken by the police as one of the four bank robbers, have highlighted the need for an independent Police Ombudsman to satisfy the public that there would be the most thorough, impartial and independent investigations not only into public complaints but a review of police conduct in general.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman