I didn’t see broken bottle in condo, cop tells Ivana inquest

Senior investigating officer Faizal Abdullah.

KUALA LUMPUR: A police witness in the inquest into Ivana Smit’s death last year told the Coroner’s Court here today that there was no broken glass bottle when he arrived at the condo unit from which the Dutch model is believed to have fallen.

Despite photos showing otherwise, Faizal Abdullah, a senior investigating officer (IO) from the Dang Wangi district police headquarters, said the broken shards of a Somersby Apple Cider bottle were not in the 20th-floor unit at CapSquare Residence.

“When I came to unit 20-5 at around 6pm on Dec 7, 2017, I did not find any glass bottle as shown in this picture,” Faizal, 38, told SN Nair, the lawyer holding a watching brief for the Smits.

Faizal previously said he was the first to arrive at the unit.

However, Dang Wangi police sergeant Haliza Hamdan had testified that she provided the Chemistry Department with an empty apple cider bottle and a broken glass bottle for testing from the Forensics Department.

Nair, a former police officer himself, asked Faizal why he did not find it odd that the broken bottle was captured on film and shown to him by a police photographer despite not seeing it on the living room floor.

Faizal, who has served for 14 years in the police force, said: “When forensics came… I was not at that location. I was at the Cheras district police headquarters.”

This earned Faizal a rebuke from Nair, who reminded him that he was under oath.

“You were there before the IO (Haliza) arrived at the scene. Is that not correct?” Nair asked, referring to Haliza’s previous testimony that the bottle was there.

Faizal replied in the affirmative, and said he was there shortly after 6pm but left later.

The police forensics officers arrived at the scene after 11pm that day. It was only then that the pictures were taken following forensics’ classification of the evidence in the unit, including the broken bottle.

Previous witnesses also testified that they heard a bottle crash after Smit’s body was discovered.

Both deputy public prosecutor N Joy Jothi and Nair have been trying to determine if Smit was knocked out cold before she died.

Two pathologists said Smit died due to injuries caused by blunt force trauma consistent with falling from a height.

They ruled out foul play but a Dutch pathologist hired by the family said there was a chance that she was dead before she fell.

Asked whether the picture of the broken bottle raised any suspicion to him at the time, Faizal, who last week said the way Smit was found in the nude was odd, reiterated that he didn’t see any bottle and that no signs of a struggle were evident.

He repeated this assertion at least three times.

At this point, Nair said: “You are making this very difficult… The question is easy. Is there a possibility of a struggle (because of the broken bottle)?”

To this, Faizal said, “Maybe”.

Smit, 18, is believed to have fallen from a 20th floor CapSquare Residence condo off Jalan Dang Wangi in the city centre, belonging to Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, sometime in the afternoon of Dec 7.

Her body was found on the sixth floor.

The trio were previously seen purchasing several Somersby bottles on the morning of Dec 7.

The police originally classified the case as sudden death, but it was re-opened this year due to pressure from Smit’s family, who claimed there were elements of foul play. The inquest, now in its 20th day, is to determine how Smit died.

Later, Nair rapped Faizal, who although was not the IO for the case at the time but a supervising officer, did not make a point to clarify if a white cloth used to cover Smit’s naked body on the sixth-floor unit was sterilised.

Pictures of the crime scene showed the white cloth hanging off some debris.

Faizal said: “I was not there at that point… I was not the IO,” to which Nair said he was Haliza’s supervisor and should have known better. Nair said he “ought to have asked” about the cloth used to cover Smit because the crime scene was a “site of contamination”.

When told that the white cloth was not put there by the police but a medical officer or a fireman, Nair reminded Faizal that he previously said that upon arriving at the sixth-floor unit only nine police officers were there.

Who then put it there without him seeing it, he asked.

Nair said: “You are concluding with what you think you know,” to which Faizal said that was not true as he meant that the nine officers were there when he showed up.

The medical officer could have shown up later and placed the cloth without him seeing, he added.

On his view that footprints found on the 20th-floor balcony belonged to Smit, Faizal could not identify which “expert report” made the conclusion as this was not previously mentioned in court.

He then told Nair that it was “his view”.

A Bukit Aman forensics officer previously testified that six sets of footprints were found on the 20th-floor condo balcony, but he was unable to determine whose prints they were or if they were of six different individuals or only one.

Faizal also clarified that he was there with Haliza as a representative of the Dang Wangi station’s Criminal Investigation Department.

He was made IO on Dec 11, but said he did not know why this was so. Nair had reprimanded Haliza many times during her testimony.

The inquest is expected to end tomorrow after five months of hearing before coroner Mahyon Talib. Nair will continue his examination of Faizal tomorrow.

Smit moved to Malaysia when she was three and lived for 13 years in Penang with her grandparents. Her body was repatriated to the Netherlands where she was buried in her birth town this year.