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Teoh inquest: Decision tomorrow

 | January 4, 2011

After more than a year, the coroner would reveal if the former DAP aide had taken his own life or if it was snatched from him.

SHAH ALAM: On July 16, 2009, the nation was stunned to learn about the tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock.

The 30-year-old former DAP aide had fallen to his death after a marathon interrogation session by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

While the authorities claimed that it was suicide, his family, however, refused to accept the explanation. They believed that Teoh, who was to get married soon, could have been murdered.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak later ordered an inquest to be held, and the proceedings were not short on twists and turns.

Teoh’s remains were exhumed for a second post-mortem after the colourful renowned Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand revealed that Teoh could have been a victim of foul play.

Tomorrow afternoon, Coroner Azmil Muntapha would deliver his judgment on the cause of death.

Counsel Gobind Singh Deo, who acted for Teoh’s family, told FMT that he and the other counsels who assisted the coroner had put forward all their arguments and evidence before the court.

“Let the legal process take its course. We have gone through many days of proceedings.

“What is important is for everyone to remain calm and take it further from whatever the verdict will be,” he said, adding that he preferred to restrain himself from prejudging the outcome.

Three possible verdicts

Meanwhile, veteran lawyer K Kumaraendran said under the guidelines issued by the Chief Justice of Malaya in 2007 on inquests, the coroner could only arrive at three possible verdicts: open verdict; verdict of misadventure; and death of any person, persons unknown.

“In layman’s terms, the coroner can either rule that there were criminal elements involved or otherwise, or that he could not arrive at any conclusion (open verdict),” he explained.

He also noted that the coroner had pointed out that he was not empowered to pinpoint any individual or enforcement agency based on incriminating evidence during the inquiry.

“However, the coroner is empowered to direct the investigation officers to probe further on the matter if the person or persons’ death indicate foul play and bring them to justice,” he said.

Kumaraendran said under Section 337 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the main objective of the inquest was strictly confined to when, where, how and what manner the deceased came to his death, or whether any person or persons had criminally caused the death.

The inquest, which lasted for more than a year, saw 40 witnesses taking the stand.

When Pornthip arrived in Kuala Lumpur to testify for the second time, she came under fire from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, who called the pathologist a “liar”.

She maintained that Teoh had not committed suicide but ruled out that he had been tortured or physically abused.

MACC, which came under heavy criticism over Teoh’s death, decided to clear its image by hiring British forensics expert Prof Dr Peter Vanezis.

He testified that Teoh was not unconscious when he fell to his death, saying he was fully conscious and orientated during the incident.


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