KUALA LUMPUR: A witness who testified today in the inquest into Dutch model Ivana Smit’s death last year has suggested that the couple who hosted her may have had something to do with it.
Smit’s mother, Christina Carolina Geranda Johanna, 54, testified in the Kuala Lumpur Coroner’s Court here that there was “absolutely no way” Smit would have jumped to her death as rumoured, rubbishing claims that she was suicidal.
“My daughter is not like how she is being portrayed. She would have never jumped off the balcony, naked or otherwise.
“There is something up, that’s what I know.
“She was so happy when she returned to Malaysia (after staying with me in Belgium for a while),” she said in a choked voice, with tears rolling down her face.
“I think the Johnson couple are responsible,” she later added, referring to Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, an American-Kazakh couple who had hosted Smit at their condo on the morning she was found dead.
Christina was the 12th witness to testify in the eight-day inquest into Smit’s death.
Smit’s body was found sprawled in the nude of a sixth floor balcony on the afternoon of Dec 7 last year at CapSquare Residences, off Jalan Dang Wangi in Kuala Lumpur.
She is believed to have fallen from a 20th floor condo belonging to the Johnsons just after 1pm.
Police had originally classified the case as sudden death, but it was re-opened after pressure from Smit’s family, who claimed that there were elements of foul play and a cover-up.
The inquest is to determine how Smit had died and whether there is enough evidence to eventually take the case to trial.
The Johnsons have been subpoenaed to testify at the inquest, but have not shown up. They were the last people who were with Smit before she died.
They are currently in the US.
A previous witness told the court that Smit was a promiscuous and sexually adventurous individual, whom he observed groping and making sexual advancements on the Johnsons in public.
Earlier in her testimony, Christina, a Dutch native, testified that she had a good relationship with her 18-year-old daughter – despite being in Europe for most of Smit’s life.
“We Skyped with each other everyday. We would usually speak for about 20-30 minutes daily.
“We’d talk about what she was going to cook that day, and normal ‘chit chat’ like that,” she said through a court interpreter.
Smit was raised in Penang by her paternal grandparents shortly before she turned two and for 15 years after that.
She visited her mother, who is now staying in Belgium, for about one year during this time.
“She was a very sweet, spontaneous and cheerful child who loved life. She never brought up any problems to me.
“The only ‘problem’ I know of is that she wanted to go back to Malaysia when she was with me during that one year.
“That (Malaysia) was where she grew up. She was happier there,” Christina explained.
She said Smit was a talented girl who made quite a bit from her modeling career – with 20,000 Euros in her own bank account – and even ran an online clothes selling business at such a young age.
A seasoned model, Smit was also a finalist for the 2017 Belgium Next Top Model competition, and was scheduled to fly back to attend the finals towards the end of last year after arriving in Malaysia in October.
Her boyfriend, Lukas Kramer, had planned to surprise her by flying to Belgium for her birthday, Christina said.
Asked if she knew whether Smit was fighting with her boyfriend or if she was aware of any financial problems Smit had, Christina said there was no reason to believe this.
“She was well off on her own. I was also supporting her financially every month,” she explained, adding Smit was not depressed or suicidal either.
Questioned again by SN Nair, the lawyer holding a watching brief for the Smits’, if Smit had any tendencies to flaunt her body or “walk half naked at home”, Christina said her daughter wouldn’t have even walked out of bathroom naked.
“She was ashamed of her small breasts. She was shy and uncomfortable about her body.”
The last Christina spoke to her daughter was on the day before she died.
She did not hear from her until the next day. “Her boyfriend messaged me via Facebook Messenger on Dec 7 and asked if I could call him. He said he hadn’t heard from Ivana, and was looking for her.
“I started calling Ivana but I couldn’t reach her. She would always answer her phone when I called.
“I don’t know why she didn’t pick up this time,” she said in tears.
The inquest continues later this afternoon.