MHA: Claim that inmate was deliberately assaulted 'false'

Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah’s two sisters (left) and a family friend (in blue) consoling Dinesh’s mother, Madam Sel, who is sitting on a chair. The Home Affairs Ministry yesterday responded to allegations made by the family of Dinesh, who died in pris
Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah’s two sisters (left) and a family friend (in blue) consoling Dinesh’s mother, Madam Sel, who is sitting on a chair. The Home Affairs Ministry yesterday responded to allegations made by the family of Dinesh, who died in prison, in their civil suit against the Government. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Allegations by family of man who died in jail 'cast aspersions' on prison service

The Home Affairs Ministry yesterday responded to allegations made by the family of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah, who died in prison, in their civil suit against the Government.

A ministry spokesman said the claim "contains serious allegations that are false and which cast aspersions on the integrity of the prison service, police investigations and the criminal justice system".

Dinesh, 21, died of breathing difficulties after being restrained following an unprovoked attack on a prison warden on Sept 27, 2010.

The family has claimed that Dinesh was deliberately assaulted and that physical symptoms were ignored.

The Government yesterday reiterated that it "accepts full responsibility" for his death and that it has offered to compensate the family.

But the family has not made any formal claim and instead suggested that "they would be prepared to 'settle' the matter for substantial windfall amounts".

The spokesman said: "If the Government cannot reach an agreement with Dinesh Raman's family, it will leave it to the Court to decide on the appropriate quantum of compensation."

More details about Dinesh also emerged yesterday in the statement.

He was a member of a secret society who did not complete his O levels and did not hold any stable job before he went to jail.

Dinesh was convicted of rioting and theft on Dec 12, 2007, and sentenced to a reformative training centre. He was released on Jan 6, 2010, subject to good behaviour.

But a week later, his mother, Madam Selvi Narayanasamy, 45, took out a personal protection order against him after he hurt her.

This order was breached on March 28 that year when Dinesh threatened to hurt her again after she rejected his request for money.

Madam Selvi called the police and Dinesh was sent back to the centre on June 1.

Although there was no formal claim, the ministry has offered compensation "calculated on the premise that Dinesh would have gone on to the Institute of Technical Education and have had a stable job".

The five-page statement came after lawyer M. Ravi chastised the ministry for denouncing the allegations in a statement on Thursday, while the matter "is now before the High Court".

But the ministry spokesman noted that Mr Ravi had gone public with the allegations even before the writ had officially been served on the Government.

The spokesman said: "It was the family and its lawyers who started making statements in public... without regard to the truth or the fact that the matter was before the Court."

waltsim@sph.com.sg