By Gangasudhan / Andrew Loh
The mother of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah says she did not indicate an amount as compensation from the government for the death of her son, contrary to what the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in its latest statement on 13 September.
Dinesh Raman died in Changi Prison 3 years ago, on 27 September 2010.
He was 21-years old.
The government said he died from “positional asphyxia” and has accepted responsibility for his death. It has also offered to pay compensation to his family.
It was reported that 8 prison officers were involved in restraining Dinesh Raman on the morning of 27 September 2010, in what the Straits Times described as a “fierce struggle” which lasted “30 minutes”.
So far, only deputy superintendent Lim Kwo Yin, has been charged for Dinesh Raman’s death.
He was fined S$10,000 by the courts on 19 July.
Following the conviction, the Coroner discontinued his inquiry on 24 July into the circumstances surrounding Dinesh Raman’s death.
The Attorney General’s Chambers explained that the government had already conducted an internal criminal investigation into the matter, and “that while all unnatural deaths are investigated and looked into, there is no multiplicity of proceedings that would be a drain on the state’s resources.”
The AGC subsequently denied the family’s request for it to instruct the Coroner to re-open the inquiry into Dinesh Raman’s death.
Dinesh Raman’s family disputes the findings of the criminal investigation and has lodged an application with the courts to compel the Coroner to re-open his inquiry.
The matter has taken on a new twist when the Ministry of Home Affairs, on 13 September 2013, alleged that the family had “informally suggested that they would be prepared to ‘settle’ the matter for substantial windfall amounts.”
The ministry did not disclose what this alleged “substantial windfall” amount was, or why the compensations negotiations or discussions were apparently being conducted “informally”, even though its statement also said that it has “engaged the family and Mr Ravi [lawyer for Mdm Selvi] on their compensation claim.”
Nonetheless, Mdm Selvi Narayanasamy, the mother of Dinesh Raman, denies having asked for any specific amount of compensation.
She says that a government officer has been contacting her continuously to ask her to settle the compensation issue. According to Mdm Selvi, he has been asking her to name an amount but she has repeatedly declined to do so.
On Monday (9/9/2013), she said the officer had gone to her house with 2 other Chinese men. She said the officer showed her some papers detailing the breakdown of damages to be assessed and asked her to indicate the amounts for each component, but she declined.
In its statement on 13 September, the MHA said:
“The State has offered a compensation quantum calculated on the premise that Dinesh Raman would have gone on to ITE and have had a stable job. This is a generous approach…”
Mdm Selvi says that her concerns are not about money or compensation. Instead, she is firm in her stance that the perpetrators must be held accountable and justice for her son must prevail.
She says that although she was told by the government officer that the prison officers involved had all been dealt with and that they were now consigned to desk-bound jobs within the Singapore Prison Service, she does not see this as justice being served.
Her writ against the government, lodged with the courts last week, contends that the prison officers had “intentionally assaulted” Dinesh Raman, resulting in his death.
The MHA had said, on 12 August, that it had “started disciplinary action against the superintendent, supervisors and other officers involved in the incident.”
However, it has not publicly disclosed what this “disciplinary action” is or what action has been taken against the officers mentioned.
On her court action, Mdm Selvi says she does not see it as being against the government but rather that she is trusting the system to hold those guilty of causing her son’s death accountable.
A High Court hearing has been set on Oct 16 to hear Mdm Selvi’s application to seek the court’s permission for a judicial review of the Coroner’s decision not to re-open his inquiry into Dinesh Raman’s death.