Race hate victim is murdered at hospital

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The Independent Online

Four young people were being questioned by police last night after an Indonesian-born man died from head injuries received in an apparent racist attack outside a hospital in Newport, South Wales.

Four young people were being questioned by police last night after an Indonesian-born man died from head injuries received in an apparent racist attack outside a hospital in Newport, South Wales.

Jan Marthin Pasalbessi, 48, was attacked late on Monday at the entrance to the Royal Gwent Hospital, in front of his adopted daughter, Christina, 14, who is white.

Three men aged 16, 18 and 21 and woman aged 19 were arrested on Tuesday for questioning about the death. Magistrates yesterday gave Newport police permission to continue questioning the four suspects until 10.15am today.

A fifth person, a teenage man, was also detained on Tuesday but later released.

The Pasalbessis had gone to the hospital so Miss Pasalbessi could be treated for a cut on her face after her father rescued her from a confrontation with neighbours outside their house in the Pill area of Newport earlier on Monday.

Police are treating both incidents as racially motivated. They said the family had only recently moved to Pill to escape racial harassment in another area of the town.

Mr Pasalbessi, who had been unemployed since the death of his wife in 1995, was quickly transferred from the Royal Gwent to a specialist intensive care unit at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. He died on Tuesday afternoon, 16 hours after the incident.

Detective Superintendent Des James, who is leading the inquiry, told a press conference in Newport yesterday that the attack was "an absolutely dreadful event".

After appealing for witnesses to come forward, Det Supt James said: "The assault on Mr Pasalbessi, given the circumstances, given the racial element, is unbelievable. We are talking about a hospital where people have gone to be treated. A place of tranquillity and peace and we have got this form of attack."

The attack took place after Mr Pasalbessi and his daughter were threatened and abused in the accident and emergency room at the hospital at about 11.15pm on Monday. The confrontation spilt out on to the hospital forecourt and continued for about 50 yards down to a main road.

A police spokeswoman said: "There was a verbal confrontation which didn't come to anything and both parties eventually left. After leaving the premises, a physical fight then broke out on the Cardiff Road outside the building. This then resulted in Mr Pasalbessi sustaining severe head injuries.

"What initially started as an inquiry into a serious assaultturned into a murder inquiry."

She said post-mortem tests were continuing.

Miss Pasalbessi was comforted by specially trained police officers. Her relatives are due to arrive from the Netherlands today.

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