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Death in Detention


On Saturday, Mr Rakesh Ramlogun, a public sector worker, died in detention. He had been arrested on Thursday last by the Major Crimes Investigation Team (MCIT), led by Assistant Superintendant Raddhoa in connection with a murder case in Lallmatie. Mr Raddhoa is notorious for his and his team's involvement in cases of human rights abuse of detainees in Mauritius.

According to press reports, Mr. Ramlogun was found unconscious in high security police cells in Alcatraz and was taken to hospital. He died there. Mr Ramlogun had made a formal complaint to the Flacq District Court Magistrate that he was being beaten up by police officers on Friday. His lawyer Ramchurn had formally requested the Magistrate to open up an inquiry.

Both Police Medical Officer Gungadin and pathologist Dr Gujallu's medical report of their respective autopsies are clear: Mr. Ramlogun did not die a natural death. Dr. Gujallu has publicly stated that it is very clear that Mr. Ramlogun had been beaten up, and died as a result of blows to his head: a "cerebral haemorrage of traumatic origin".

According to press reports, Mr. Ramlagun's wife, Mrs. Bindoo Ramlagun did not know where her husband was on Saturday morning. She tried Alcatraz high security cells, then MCIT headquarters. It was by accident that her lawyer learnt that Mr Ramlagun had been taken to Jeetoo hospital supposedly for "alcohol fits". When Mrs. Ramlagun finally managed to see her husband in hospital, she saw wounds on his feet and head. Mr. Ramalgun was very weak, and could not open his eyes. Some two hours later, he died.

This is the 46th death in police detention since 1979 on the list of deaths in detention compiled by Lalit.

The pattern is hauntingly identical to that of the death and cover-up of Kaya: both Mr. Ramlagun and Kaya were detained in Alcatraz , both their widows were not told what had happened to their respective husbands, both had clear traces of wounds and blows, and after their death, there was a cover-up by the State to pretend, in the face of all credible medical evidence, that their death was a result of "self-inflicted injury" or as a result of "alcohol fits".

The police on duty in Kaya's cell have still not been brought to trial, nor were they ever even suspended. Lalit stands with Mrs. Bindoo Ramlagun and her lawyer and with the association Justice Against Violence by State Officers to demand that police officers in charge of Mr. Ramlagun during his detention be suspended and formally charged with murder.

When this famous musician was found dead at Alcatraz with his feet having been squashed under the door of his cell presumsably after he'd been thrown in dead or near dead and with 33 wounds on his body, almost exactly seven years ago, what happened was that there were three days of very severe rebellion against the State on a nation-wide scale. All roads were blocked. The rebellion was quelled when elements close to the State and to rich people, sent in thugs to burn down some peoples' houses in two isolated hamlets, trying to convert the rebellion against the State into an ethno-religious (communal) riot.

In 2001, Police officer Raddhoa, who had been sent in disgrace to work away from the public in the police garage after too many complaints against him for police brutality, was re-instated and put in charge of the MCIT by the new Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam, in the single most unpopular action of the new government so far. Lalit, the association Justice and Muvman Liberasyon Fam were in the forefront of the opposition to his re-instatement and the consequent re-instatement of his torture methods. In his public statements, ASP Raddhoa has made it quite clear that his re-instatement and promotion is a political one.

This means that Prime Minister Ramgoolam has a particular responsibility in the death of Mr. Rakesh Ramlogun.

Lalit presents our condolences to his widow, Bindoo, and their three young children.
We call on the Government to immediately suspend those responsible for the enquiry in the MCIT, and to bring murder charges against them.