Pathologist: Ivana died on impact in fall, not anytime before

Dr Zunaizah Hilmi says there were no pieces of glass found in her head to indicate she had been hit with a glass bottle or internal bleeding because of its impact.

KUALA LUMPUR: A pathologist testifying in the inquest into the death of Dutch model Ivana Smit last year today said her post-mortem showed she died upon impact, and not anytime before.

Dr Zunaizah Hilmi, of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur, told the Coroner’s Court here that this was based on injuries specific to Smit’s left side and a later reenactment of the incident at the building where she was found dead.

“I found that the deceased fell on her left side, with her back receiving primary impact.

“My opinion (that she fell to her death) is based on this and other injuries to her left side, such as her pelvic bone, back of head, vertebrae bone and thorax,” she said when questioned by deputy public prosecutor N Joy Jothi earlier.

Quizzed if it was possible for the blunt-force injuries on Smit’s head could have come from being hit with a glass bottle, Zunaizah said there were no pieces of glass found in her head or internal bleeding because of its impact.

Asked if she could determine whether the bruises found on Smit’s body had already been there or not prior to the fall, Zunaizah admitted the precise “age” of the injuries could not be determined.

But she said Smit did not die an “instantaneous death”.

“Bruises can usually show up in the hours before or after the deceased’s death,” she explained, adding that she could still roughly differentiate between old and new injuries based on their colour and shape.

She did not specify if she did this for Smit’s 81 injuries.

Zunaizah, 30, also said the dummy used in the police reenactment of the Dec 7 incident last year at CapSquare Residences, where Ivana’s body was found sprawled on a sixth-floor condo balcony, was damaged similarly.

“The dummy used is not the same thing as a human body as it has no joints and such to make for a perfect reenactment, but there was clear damage to its pelvic bone area,” she said after a recording of the reenactment was shown in court.

Apart from Smit’s pelvic bone, her ribcage and skull were also fractured.

Today is the eighth day of the inquest into Smit’s untimely death on Dec 7 last year.

Smit’s body was found dead and in the nude on a sixth-floor balcony at the CapSquare Residences, off Jalan Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur.

She is believed to have fallen from a 20th-floor condo belonging to an American-Kazakh couple she had befriended and was staying with on the morning of her death.

Smit is believed to have fallen between 11am and 2pm on Dec 7. She crashed through a balcony roof.

Her body, covered with debris, plastic and wooden blinds was discovered by the unit’s occupant when he came home at around 2pm.

Police had originally classified the case as sudden death, but it was re-opened this year 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.

Zunaizah is the fifteenth witness to testify.

She had conducted a seven-hour autopsy on Smit’s body on Dec 8 at the hospital morgue last year.

Earlier this morning, Zunaizah told the court that her autopsy found minimal bleeding in her brain and other parts of the body, as well as a torn aorta in her chest cavity, but said this was not the cause of Smit’s death.

She pointed instead to several injuries to organs and body parts found in her internal and external examination of Smit’s body, and said this would only happen if the body had slammed on impact, much like if she fell hard.

Zunaizah today said Smit’s official cause of death was due to serious injuries to her chest, abdomen and pelvis from her fall.

“The injuries I observed on the deceased correlate to her having fallen from a height, or acceleration-deceleration injuries.

“The deceased had mesentery bruises, injuries to both her lungs, and the soft tissue surrounding her left kidney.

“I have often seen similar injuries in blunt-force trauma deaths in road accidents.

“This is why I concluded the deceased died because of blunt-force trauma,” she told the court today.

Her post-mortem report, which she read out in part during her testimony, also ruled out death by disease or internal brain damage.

The court also heard from Zunaizah that her post-mortem report took more than a month to prepare before its first draft was published on Jan 22 this year.

Asked why it took so long to prepare, Zunaizah explained it was a standard procedure to take up to eight weeks for the post-mortem report to be finalised.

The inquest continues next Monday.

Although the inquest was scheduled to end today, the court has set three extra days, beginning next Monday.