New investigation ordered after Tamil dies in custody The death of a 22-year-old Tamil youth in Malaysian police custody has sparked urgent calls for an independent oversight commission into police activity. On Wednesday, about 500 Tamils led by opposition lawmakers marched through central Kuala Lumpur parading the coffin of Kugan Ananthan, who was arrested for suspected car theft on January 15. He died in custody five days later. Official autopsy results concluded that Kugan died of fluid in the lungs. However, the dead man's family and their lawyers rejected the findings and demanded an independent inquiry into the death. Following the march, Kugan's body was buried in a Hindu cemetery amid emotional scenes broadcast on national television. Lawyers and family members of Kugan accuse police of beating him to death during interrogation. Police said Kugan collapsed and died of asthma in his cell. On Monday, the family released photos of Kugan's body taken at the morgue. The images, released to local media and published on the internet, showed heavy bruising on the body. 'This is murder, nothing less ... the photos say it all,' said family lawyer and prominent rights activist Nagarajan Surendran. The images sparked public protests outside police headquarters. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim described the death as 'murder' when he visited the family's home in the suburb of Puchong on Tuesday. 'There is no check and balance on police abuse and excess. We need an effective police watchdog commission to end custodial death, curb corruption and promote accountability,' Mr Anwar said. By Wednesday, Attorney General Ghani Patel had ordered a fresh investigation into Kugan's possible 'murder'. That day, the government announced that 11 lower ranking police personnel have been 'confined to desk duty' pending investigations. A second, 11-hour postmortem examination by both government and private doctors on Tuesday saw tissue samples sent to Singapore for analysis. The results have yet to be released. The government yesterday appealed for calm and promised to bring to justice those involved in Kugan's death. The incident has thrown fresh light on other deaths in custody, especially of Tamils. According to police, the Tamil minority - who make up 8 per cent of the population - commit about 40 per cent of crime. Earlier this month, P.Prabakar claimed he was tortured with boiling water by police. Six policemen were charged with causing grievous harm while extracting confessions. 'These cases are only the tip of the iceberg,' said opposition lawmaker Ramasamy Palanisamy, a former sociology professor. 'Tamil youths are unskilled, alienated from mainstream socio-economic progress and therefore more involved in crime compared to Chinese or Malays,' he said. 'The government is ignoring the nexus between poverty, crime and corruption and brutality in the force.' According to statistics presented to parliament last year, 1,335 people died in detention between 2003 and 2007, including those who died of illnesses. 'It's all lumped together ... there is an urgent need to investigate and clarify these deaths, how they died, because some could be victims of police and prison brutality,' said opposition lawmaker Charles Santiago. A Royal Commission on the Police in 2006 proposed a police oversight body modelled on Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption. However, Malaysia has yet to establish such an authority.