Mother seeks court order to reopen Coroner's Inquiry into son's death

Madam Selvi Narayanasamy (left), the mother of an inmate who died in prison three years ago, leaves the Subordinate Court Building on July 19, 2013. She filed an affidavit with the High Court on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013, seeking a mandatory order
Madam Selvi Narayanasamy (left), the mother of an inmate who died in prison three years ago, leaves the Subordinate Court Building on July 19, 2013. She filed an affidavit with the High Court on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013, seeking a mandatory order for the Coroner to reopen and continue with the inquiry into her son's death. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The mother of an inmate who died in prison three years ago filed an affidavit with the High Court on Wednesday, seeking a mandatory order for the Coroner to reopen and continue with the inquiry into her son's death.

Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah, 21, died on Sept 27, 2010 from breathing difficulties in Changi Prison. He had been restrained by eight officers, having been placed chest down in an isolation cell after carrying out an unprovoked attack on an officer.

This comes after the family sent a letter to the Attorney-General on Aug 15 requesting for the reopening of the inquiry and for it to be completed within a week.

Lawyer M. Ravi of LF Violet Netto said in a statement: "The Coroner has failed to discharge his duty in law to continue with the inquiry as there was no finding made in the criminal proceedings into the cause and circumstances of Dinesh's death."

According to court documents, Madam Selvi Narayanasamy said she was "shocked and surprised" that the inquiry was discontinued after senior prison officer Lim Kwo Yin, 36, pleaded guilty in August to causing his death by negligence and was fined $10,000.

"I disagree that there was any finding made by the District Judge in Lim Kwo Yin's court proceedings as to the cause and circumstances of my son's death," she wrote, adding that "there was no evidence presented by the Prosecution and Defence as to the cause and circumstances of my son's death".

She said that all that was presented was "a short agreed statement of facts", and that it would have been "completely different" if Lim had contested the charges because "full evidence would have had to be called". Only in the latter scenario would a continuation of the Inquiry have been "superfluous", she added.

The Attorney-General's Chambers said in a statement on July 25 that the coroner's inquiry was discontinued because criminal proceedings had already shown how he died.

Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran had said in Parliament on Aug 12 that the Government accepts responsibility for Dinesh's death and will compensate the family.