SHAH ALAM, May 20 — The coroner’s court has fixed June 11 to hear a formal application to allow Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand to testify via video conferencing in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.
Counsel for the Selangor state government Malik Imtiaz informed the court this morning that Dr Pornthip would not be coming to the country to testify but she was “willing to testify via video conferencing.”
Malik said that given the situation, the court should allow a video conference for Dr Pornthip to testify.
However, Tan Hock Chuan, who is a lawyer representing the Attorney-General’s Chambers, argued that although there were legal procedures to allow the application for video conferencing, one had to see whether it benefited all parties.
Tan went on to cite previous cases to illustrate his point.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas said that a formal application on the part of the Selangor state government was required.
“For the interest of justice, I would like (to hear) a formal application to obtain leave from court so that we have a formal reason from Dr Pornthip to say why she can’t come, and the need for video conferencing,” said Azmil.
He then set June 11 for lawyers to present arguments on the formal application, and also for the questioning of two witnesses — M. Manoharan and Tan Boon Wah
Counsel for Teoh’s family Gobind Singh Deo(picture) told reporters that a provision under section 272 of the CPC (Criminal Procedure Code) allowed such an application to be made under certain circumstances.
“This is a new provision as it came into effect in 2007. This will be a test case, the first time a witness is giving testimony from overseas,” said Gobind.
He also said that the testimony of one of the witnesses, Tan Boon Wah, will be dependent on the outcome of the Federal Court ruling on a separate case, where he had claimed unlawful detention by the MACC.
Dr Pornthip had been hired by the state as an expert witness for the inquest into the death of the political aide.
Teoh was found dead last July after being questioned overnight by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) over graft allegations.
However the Thai civil servant had wanted to pull out midway into the inquest, citing indirect pressure from the Malaysian government.