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Court rules Nigerian detained in Malaysian prison died from natural causes

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A High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has upheld a coroner court’s ruling that the death of a Nigerian student Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, at an Immigration Detention Centre three years ago, was not due to negligence.

Last year, the coroner’s court held that Thomas who was a doctorate student at Limkokwing University, died on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre of a heart attack and ruled out the involvement of criminal elements.

His family, however, filed a review to challenge the ruling, claiming that coroner Mahyon Talib had failed to consider that the detention was unlawful and that the victim was not given medical attention when he was unwell.

Judicial commissioner Azhar Abdul Hamid said the coroner did not commit any misdirection in his ruling on Thomas’s death.

“I find that the court did not commit any misdirection. The decision is affirmed and the review application is dismissed,” Hamid ruled.

During the hearing of the case, legal representative of the Ewansiha family Rajesh Nagarajan, told the court that Thomas’s death was as a result of “series of wrongful actions” committed by the Immigration Department.

“His friend even said that Immigration (officers) demanded a ‘bribe’ from Thomas so he could be released. The money was paid but he was still detained at the Bukit Jalil depot,” he said.

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The lawyer also pointed out that Thomas was an obese person weighing about 130kg but he was forced to do jump squats during the period of his detention which caused him to collapse and was also given the wrong medication for his high blood pressure.

Deputy public prosecutor Kamarul Aris Kamalluddin, also admitted to the court that the authorities might have been “slow” in providing Thomas with immediate medical assistance when he fainted in his cell.

“They tried their best to give him CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until the paramedics arrived. Maybe, he could have been saved if immediate assistance was provided,” Kamalluddin said.

Kamalluddin stressed that the issue of purported wrongful arrest and assault raised by Thomas’ family is irrelevant.

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