Malaysian police face jail over beating of businessman

The five junior officers pleaded not guilty to the charge when they appeared in a magistrate's court in central Selangor state yesterday, state media reported. They face up to one year in jail and a fine if convicted.

They were charged over an incident involving businessman Chia Buang Hing, who has claimed he was assaulted by 11 policemen last month while in custody after being detained for allegedly carrying drugs. No drug charges have been brought against Chia so far.

"This is a very rare prosecution. It is a good start," Chia's lawyer, Lim Lip Eng, told AFP. Lim demanded action against the other six police officers, and said there were plans for a civil suit to seek compensation over the assault.

Chia has said he was kicked and stepped on, and suffered injuries to his face including bruising around the eyes. Government prosecutors could not be immediately reached for comment.

The case has renewed debate about the Malaysian police force, which is frequently accused of being "trigger-happy" and aggressive, and widely seen as riddled with corruption. Last month rights activists cited police data produced during a trial that showed 279 alleged criminals were shot dead by police officers over a period of nine years from 2000.

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