Teoh Beng Hock’s family today said they were considering exhuming the political aide’s body to allow Thai expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand to conduct a fresh post-mortem.
They said that they will be consulting their lawyer Gobind Singh Deo on the matter before making a final decision.
Gobind is holding a watching brief for them in the ongoing inquest to determine the cause of Teoh’s death.
Gobind meanwhile said he will have to study the implication of Pornthip’s evidence today before deciding on the exhumation.
“Only after that will we decide if we want to apply to the court for the body to be exhumed,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.
Earlier today Pornthip testified that there was an 80 percent probability that Teoh’s death was homicide and 20 percent chance of it being suicide.
She said that the wounds and injury marks found on Teoh’s body indicated that he could have been strangled before falling from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
However her findings were based on autopsy reports prepared by others.
Can still find useful information
She admitted that she faced limitations in making a conclusive finding as she had not performed a post-mortem on Teoh’s body. She has also not visited the crime scene.
“If I have chance to do the second post mortem, I can find the final conclusion,” she told Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas in the afternoon session of the inquest.
She also said that she could still find useful information from the fresh post mortem despite Teoh’s body being buried on July 20.
“I could still conduct a post-mortem on the body even three months after his death,” she said.
The 54-year-old expert, who was asked by the Selangor government to testify on the cause of Teoh’s death, said her findings tendered at the inquest today were based on the autopsy reports of Dr Khairul Azman and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar and post-mortem pictures made available to her.
She also admitted that she was not furnished with the DNA report and the toxicology report by counsel for the Selangor government.
‘I believe in my work’
However, she disagreed with a suggestion by counsel Tan Hock Chuan, who is representing the Malaysian government, that it was not appropriate for her to conclude that there was an 80 percent possibility of homicide since she did not conduct the post-mortem, did not inspect the crime scene and did not furnish the post-mortem report by herself.
“I tried to come to the conclusion based on the limitations of the evidence before me. My final objective is to take the final evidence based on the second autopsy.
“You have to understand the limitations that I face here. It is my work and I believe in that. It is more scientific,” she said.
Asked by Tan whether she agreed with the autopsy reports by the forensic pathologists that Teoh’s injuries were consistent with injuries suffered by someone who fell from a height, Porntip replied: “Some of the injuries, not all.”
Teoh, the 30-year-old political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, had been summoned to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam to be questioned over irregularities in the disbursement of state funds on July 15.
He was found dead on the fifth floor service corridor of the building the following day.
The inquest will continue on Nov 9.
State wants further probe
In a related development, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim urged the authorities to further investigate Teoh’s death based on the revelations made by Pornthip today.
“We hope the relevant authorities will study Dr Pornthip’s evidence objectively to ensure that justice is served.
“Given her experience in investigating complicated homicide and having performed more than 10,000 autopsies in the last 27 years, Dr Pornthip’s evidence cannot be taken lightly,” he said in a statement.
He added that his government was concerned with the findings made by the Thai expert.
He said it was important that a royal commission was set up to look into Teoh’s death instead of just looking into the MACC’s methods of interrogation as will be done by a royal commission announced by the government in July.
Pornthip willing to conduct post mortem on Teoh
SHAH ALAM: Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand is willing to conduct a post mortem on Teoh Beng Hock if his remains were to be exhumed.
She told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas she would be able to come up with a more concise and detailed analysis if she could examine Teoh’s remains.
To a question by counsel holding a watching brief for Teoh’s family, Gobind Singh Deo, Dr Pornthip said she would still be able to conduct the post mortem in spite of the deceased having been buried almost four months ago.
Asked whether the exhumation of Teoh’s remains for the purpose of the second post mortem would put her at a disadvantage, she said no.
She admitted that there would be “limitations” due to decomposition if a second postmortem was delayed.
However, she reiterated that she could still do so at this stage.
Meanwhile, counsel for the government – Tan Hock Chuan – ruffled Dr Pornthip’s feathers yesterday when he suggested she did not have the locus standi to arrive at her opinion.
“Since you did not conduct the post mortem or inspect the body or go to the scene of the incident and you are not furnished with all the reports and photos, is it appropriate to form an opinion on mathematical terms that suicide is 20% and homicide 80%?” asked Tan.
Dr Pornthip replied that she only based her opinion on the evidence provided.
She said she did not take sides and that her work involved taking care of the rights of the people, especially the dead.
When Tan rephrased his question to suggest that the limitations she faced could not have helped her arrive at her conclusion that it was 80% homicide and 20% suicide, Dr Pornthip replied: “It is my field, my work and I believe in that. It is more scientific.”
Dr Pornthip also said she did not agree with some of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre’s Dr Prashant Samberkar’s opinions, in particular that Teoh’s death could have been a suicide.
However, she said, she did not want to criticise the opinion of the other forensic pathologists.
She added that she wanted the press to know that her opinion was based on her years of experience and not aimed at contradicting the police or other medical professionals.
The inquest was adjourned to Nov 9.