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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Teoh's inquest resumes amid returning fears of a cover-up


SHAH ALAM, Feb 19: Concerns are mounting of yet another huge cover-up by the federal government as the inquest into the suspicious death of Selangor political aide Teoh Beng Hock resumed on Friday, with the findings of Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand hotly disputed.

“It is sad that the authorities have chosen to go along this dark path which bodes ill for our country and future,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Harakahdaily.

“It looks like another major cover-up and they will surely do all that they can to prevent the truth from emerging – not in our legal system, not in its present form anyway.”

Like the vast majority of Malaysians, Dr Pornthip believes Teoh was murdered. However, Sungai Buloh Hospital pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor has insisted she was wrong.

Shahidan told the coroner’s court that he disagreed with Pornthip that Teoh may have been strangled and that there were penetrative wounds to his anus, causing the extensive breakage of bones in his posterior.

Government credibility in question

Shahidan, who has conducted about 1,200-odd autopsies in his career, performed the second post-mortem on Teoh on November 22 under the watchful eyes of two other government doctors, who had carried out the disputed first autopsy.

Pornthip, who is appointed by the Selangor government, and Dr Peter Venezis, who is appointed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, were also present.

According to Shahidan the marks on Teoh’s neck were all of the same intensity. In manual strangulation, the intensity of such marks would differ, he said. He added that it was likely that Teoh’s injuries were the result of a fall from a steep height.

Yet he was shielded from immediate cross examination, with the inquest adjourned to March 1. By then, Teoh's family who were also present in court hope that Dr Pornthip will be here to testify.

Shahidan had told the court that external examinations during the second autopsy showed injuries behind Teoh’s tongue and in his inner throat. His skull was cracked and so were the bones in his posterior. There were also injuries on his hands, legs and feet, while the humerus, femur and fibia bones were broken.

Son to be born next week

The body of the 30-year old Teoh had been found sprawled outside the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam, Selangor on July 16, 2009. He had gone to the 14th floor office of the MACC the night before to be questioned as a witness into alleged misappropriation of funds by his boss, Ean Yong Hian Wah, the Seri Kembangan assemblyman and Selangor state executive councilor.

The MACC and the first two pathologists - Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim of the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar of University Malaya Medical Centre – have claimed that Teoh committed suicide.

However, his colleagues and this family are adamant foul play was involved as Teoh was due to have got married on the day his body was found. He was also looking forward to the birth of his first child his fiancée was carrying.

His child is due to be born next week and is likely to be a boy, his family told reporters today.

Attempts to intimidate Pornthip

Last year, the regionally-respected Dr Pornthip shocked the court when she testified that based on the first autopsy report there was an 80 percent chance that Teoh's death was homicide. Her testimony sparked calls for the second autopsy.

Shortly after the completion of the second post-mortem, there were attempts to intimidate Dr Pornthip and prevent her from returning to Malaysia to testify. An MACC officer even lodged a police complaint against Pornthip for being in contempt of the court, alleging that she had leaked news to the media about the second post mortem.

Nevertheless, and after the Attorney-General assured the country that Dr Pornthip would not be arrested on arrival on Malaysian soil, she has agreed to testify. Dr Venezis is also due to testify.


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