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Monday, April 12, 2010

Selangor seeks video testimony for Pornthip

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — The Selangor government will try to get the Coroner’s court in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest to agree to a video conferencing proposal in a desperate bid to get forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand to testify.

The Selangor government is pushing for a video testimony for Dr Pornthip in the upcoming Teoh Beng Hock inquest. - Picture by Choo Choy May
The Thai pathologist has pulled out from testifying when the death inquest resumes on April 20, citing “political pressure” from Putrajaya that could affect her work in southern Thailand.
An aide from the Selangor Mentri Besar’s office told The Malaysian Insider today that Pornthip’s withdrawal had caught them by surprise and forced them to meet and discuss ways to have the pathologist testify.
“So far, apart from convincing Pornthip to reconsider, video conferencing is the only option that has popped out,” said the senior aide.
“We will try and convince the judge to agree to this soon,” the aide added.
When contacted, lawyer for the Selangor government Malik Imtiaz Sarwar refused to comment.
“Am taking instructions. No comment as yet,” Malik said through SMS.
The flashy Thai pathologist could not be contacted to verify the reasons for not continuing her testimony into Teoh’s mysterious death last July 16.
She had said in her earlier testimony in court here that Teoh’s death was “80 per cent homicide”, contradicting Malaysian pathologists who say the political aide could have fallen to his death or suicide.
Her testimony will be crucial to the inquest, and to prove allegations that there was foul play in Teoh’s death.
It is not known if the coroner, Azmil Muntapha Abbas, has been notified of her withdrawal.
The 54-year-old Thai forensic expert who had performed over 10,000 post-mortems in her 27-year career had held observer status in a second autopsy ordered by Azmil last November.
Hospital Sungai Buloh chief pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor undertook the task and later testified and refuted Dr Pornthip’s finding that Teoh did not commit suicide.
Dr Shahidan maintained the 30-year-old had fallen to his death from the MACC Selangor office on the 14th-floor of Plaza Masalam in the state capital.
An initial autopsy jointly-conducted by Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim from the Hospital Tengku Rahimah Ampuan (HTAR) in Klang and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar from the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur showed that Teoh had fallen to his death.
The MACC’s hired expert from Britain, Dr Peter Vanezis, is due to testify next on April 26 and 27.
Teoh was the political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah.
He had been questioned overnight by anti-graft officials investigating claims his boss had misused state funds and was found dead on Plaza Masalam’s 5th-floor landing on July 16 last year.
Meanwhile, DAP Socialist Youth national publicity secretary Ng Wei Aik said in a statement today the party was extremely shocked after learning that Dr. Pornthip had pulled out and cited political pressure from the Malaysian government.

“This shows that there is an unseen “political black hand” interfering in Teoh Beng Hock’s inquest as well as its final judgment. Why should the Malaysian government be extremely afraid of Dr. Pornthip’s testimony if MACC alluded that Teoh might have committed suicide?” said Ng in a statement.


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