[Malaysian Insider] Pornthip not a witness in Teoh RCI
~ By Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand was not included on the witness list issued by the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh Beng Hock’s death today.
Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who is representing Teoh’s family, said he would request for Dr Pornthip to be called as a witness as she has previously testified that the DAP aide had sustained pre-fall injuries to his neck before plunging to his death.
“If we are supposed to have an independent investigation... the first name (on the list) should be Dr Pornthip (picture),” said Gobind today.
The head of the commission, Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen, reassured Gobind that arrangements could be made to include other witnesses.
Dr Pornthip, who had said Teoh did not kill himself, was a key witness called by the Selangor state government during the coroner’s inquest that returned an open verdict in Teoh’s death that ruled out both suicide and homicide.
Gobind told reporters later that the witness list also excluded the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) British forensic expert Dr Peter Vanezis, but included all the local pathologists in the coroner's inquiry.
Dr Vanezis and the three government pathologists — Dr Shahidan Md Noor, Dr Prashant Samberkar and Dr Khairul Aznam Ibrahim — had suggested that Teoh jumped to his death.
Dr Pornthip was the only forensic expert who supported the Teoh family's claims of foul play, although she declined to repeat her previous assertion that Teoh's death was 80 per cent homicide.
She also said Teoh was likely to have been unconscious before he fell nine floors from the Selangor MACC headquarters in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, on July 16, 2009.
The 54-year-old Thai pathologist had said the bruise on Teoh's neck was caused by a blunt object, which could be something pressed against his head or neck.
Dr Vanezis — famed for his role in Princess Diana’s inquest — similarly did not rule out the possibility that Teoh could have suffered pre-fall injuries.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas had confirmed the existence of pre-fall injuries on Teoh's neck.
Azmil also raised doubts that Teoh could have exited unaided from the window on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam before falling to his death following overnight interrogation by MACC officers.
The RCI today also accepted conducting officers from the Attorney-General’s Chambers despite claims of bias from Teoh’s family lawyers.
Gobind said the conducting officers, who are charged with presenting evidence at the inquiry, had a conflict of interest as the A-G’s Chambers was allegedly seeking a suicide finding in its application to revise the open verdict in the Teoh inquest.
“Until and when we have reason to doubt their impartiality, we will accept their assistance,” said Foong.
“We find comfort in the fact that all parties represented will not only provide the necessary check and balance, but assist us in bringing forth information and relevant evidence in achieving our terms of reference,” he added.
The RCI’s witness list also includes Dr Ba’diah Yahya, a psychiatrist from Hospital Permai in Johor, who had been previously appointed to interview Teoh’s family members and close friends to ascertain the political secretary’s state of mind and determine if suicide was a possibility.
The interview never took place.
ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal, tasked with leading the investigation into the 30-year-old’s fatal plunge, is also on the list.
Among other witnesses are police forensic experts DSP Shahrul Othman Mansor and Chief Inspector Mazli Jusoh, Selangor executive councillor and Teoh’s former boss Ean Yong Hian Wah, government handwriting expert Wong Kong Yong, court interpreter Ting Chin Kin, Teoh’s brother Meng Kee and Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah.
Source: The Malaysian Insider