Adib inquest puzzle: Why did ministry call its own expert?

Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid was called by lawyers of the housing and local government ministry to testify at the inquest into fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death.

PETALING JAYA: A prominent lawyer has raised a question mark over testimony by a rival pathologist at the coroner’s inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.

Speaking to FMT, Sankara Nair said it was “unbecoming and adversarial” for lawyers of the housing and local government ministry to call in its own pathologist, Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid, to scrutinise a report by Hospital Kuala Lumpur pathologists. The hospital comes under the purview of the health ministry.

“This is an inquest and the HKL pathologists are the accredited ones in all inquests and trials in Malaysia,” said Nair, who has been involved in the royal commission of inquiries into Anwar Ibrahim’s black eye, Teoh Beng Hock’s death and the inquest into the death of Dutch model Ivana Smit.

Sankara Nair.

“Other ministries have no business in dealing with pathologists to oppose HKL, it defies logic that another ministry’s lawyer seems to not want to rely on or accept a report by HKL’s pathologist.”

Shahrom had testified that it was “not likely” for Adib to come out from the reversing emergency medical rescue service van, in an attempt to escape a riot taking place outside the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya on Nov 27 last year.

Doctors of Hospital Kuala Lumpur had testified earlier that they believed Adib had stepped out from the front passenger seat and there were no injuries to suggest the late fireman was assaulted, as speculated.

Nair and another lawyer, N Sivananthan, questioned the motive behind the ministry calling its own pathologist to testify.

“It is very strange that the ministry called in someone who was not involved in the autopsy or the inquest, to begin with,” Sivananthan told FMT.

N Sivananthan.

He said it would appear that the ministry was not happy with the views given by HKL’s pathologist.

Nair also wondered if the ministry’s pathologists had ever examined Adib’s body or even visited the scene. “It is extremely important that he did or else his evidence is purely guesswork and will be farcical.”

Nair said he was concerned by the objection raised by lawyers for the ministry and Adib’s family for the recall of HKL’s pathologist for further testimony.

“Clearly, there is a strong case for the conducting officer to recall the HKL pathologists to give their views on the new opinion introduced. The lawyers shouldn’t fear this as it also gives them an opportunity to examine as well.”

However, another lawyer, Saiful Izham Ramli, disagrees, saying it was not strange for the housing and local government ministry to present testimony from its own pathologist. He said “the inquest is to determine Adib’s cause of death and it is not criminal proceedings whereby the rules and procedures will be stricter”, he told FMT.

He also noted that the two ministries represented different interested parties. “The hospital represents the government and the other pathologist represents the housing and local government ministry, which oversees the Fire and Rescue Department.”