Iswaran had told Parliament that the State Coroner discontinued the inquiry because the cause and circumstances of Dinesh's death had been established in the criminal court. Well, if it had been so clearly established, it behoves one to ask why the minister is so reluctant to release the full report of the coroner's inquiry. Law Minister K Shanmugam had once said the Shane Todd inquiry was fair, open and "the world can see what we have done", yet he, too deigned to release that report when challenged by the Todd family.
The statement relating to the request for reopening the coroner's enquiry said that it is "in the interest of transparency and justice that a public and independent inquiry into Dinesh's death be allowed to run its full course. His family deserves nothing less." We could also add, the general public interest deserves nothing less.
The family's lawyer correctly pointed out that "there had been no forensic findings on how, when and where the deceased came by his death, which is the stated purpose of of an an inquiry into the death, according to Section 27(1)(b) of the Coroner's Act." This flies in the face of Iswaran's claim that the cause and circumstances had been clearly established in court. And since the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had already emphasised that the prosecution does not have power "to compel the coroner to adjourn or discontinue an inquiry," it looks like State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid also owes the public an accounting for why he decided to stop work. Work only when you feel like working? Now that's a job to die for (pun unintended).
Whatever happens, the AGC needs to emerge stronger from this affair. In the light of recent shenanigans - corrupt elements within CPIB, professor of law hauled to jail, top law enforcers servants nabbed by honey traps - faith in the judicial system has been badly shaken. Brushing off the cartoonist was the easy part, restoring the trust of the people in public institutions needs a bit more work.
Iswaran says the police already spent 28 months and interviewed 130 on the case (compared to 13 months and over 60 witnesses for Shane Todd). Surely the extra effort to clear the air can't be that much of a "drain on the state's resources," the excuse proffered by the AGC as one justification for discontinuation of a coroner's inquiry.