The family of a British resident shot by police while on holiday in Malaysia are demanding answers over the circumstances of his death and the mysterious disappearance of his wife.
Janarthanan Vijayaratnam, 40, a Sri Lankan businessman who was permanently resident in the UK, was killed by police officers in the early hours of September 14 alongside his Malaysian brother-in-law and another Malaysian friend after an apparent car chase that ended in a shootout.
However, his family have disputed the police version of events and are urgently seeking information about the whereabouts of his wife, Moganambal Govindasamy, 35, who they believe was travelling with the three men and has not been seen since.
The couple, who lived in Portsmouth, had arrived to visit relatives in the western state of Selangor in Malaysia in late August with their three children aged 17, ten and five, the youngest of whom holds a British passport.
Prior to the shooting, police officers allegedly spotted a car “moving suspiciously,” Selangor police chief Commander Datuk Noor Azam Jamaludin told the Sun Daily. He claimed the driver defied orders to pull over and this led to a chase.
“Subsequently, the car crashed and gunshots rang out. The policemen had to return fire,” Mr Noor Azam said. The three men were then found in the car, but he added that “there was no woman among them.”
The police claim the men were suspected of scouting for houses to break into.
“If we are suspicious, we will stop vehicles to check. There is no need to fear or attempt to escape if one has nothing to hide,” added Mr Noor Azam.
Vijayaratnam’s family have strongly denied the police accusations, arguing that he was a successful businessman on holiday.
They have alleged that the police have contradictions in their account, fearing that the men may have been victims of a “shoot to kill” policy, Ponnusamy Uthaya Kumar, a lawyer acting on the family’s behalf told The Telegraph.
He said that one of the men in the car had “supposedly been wanted by the police” for suspected gang activities and earlier been detained without trial but not found guilty of a crime.
Mr Kumar claimed, however, that the police incident report sounded like a “false story” that reflected a “standard operating storyline” – one that normally took place “in an area of zero witnesses, in the early hours of the morning” and involved all of the suspects dying but no injuries to the police.
“The family have not been given the post-mortem. Based on the burial certificate, it says that on all three individuals [there is] a bullet wound on the left hand-side of the chest… in the case of the British permanent resident, he has two bullet wounds on his left chest,” he revealed.
“The police say it was a shootout between the suspects and the police, but how can you exactly shoot on the left-hand side and two bullets within about an inch of each other? This is inconsistent with the police report,” added Mr Kumar.
“[If] there was a shootout you must have at least shot the tyres of the car. This was not stated by the police… Then their legs were not shot at, straight it goes to the chest, so to me it is not consistent.”
While the police claim that Vijayaratnam’s wife was not present, the family have uncovered CCTV footage that show Govindasamy out with the three men at 10.33pm on the night of the incident.
A location map was sent from her phone at 1.38am that led relatives to the scene of the shooting, said Mr Kumar.
A police source allegedly told the family that she was shot in the leg and tried to run.
Mr Kumar has urged the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to help find the missing mother. “Malaysia has signed signed the convention on enforced disappearance,” he said.
The couple’s three children are preparing to return to the UK.
An FCO spokesperson said: “Our staff are providing assistance to the family of a British child following an incident in Batu Arang, Malaysia and are in contact with both the British and Malaysian authorities.”
On Wednesday Abdul Hamid Bador, Malaysia’s inspector general of police, said that investigations of the incident were ongoing, and that post-mortem results were still pending.
“I have made a request for an inquest immediately to avoid sabotage and justice can be served,” he said, adding: “We cannot rush investigations.”
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia is also investigating whether there has been a police abuse of power.