Coroner Rules Actress Sujatha Committed Suicide

(Bernama) — The coroner's court on Tuesday ruled out any criminal involvement in the death of actress K. Sujatha's, saying that she committed suicide by drinking paraquat.

The 28-year-old was a former personal assistant to S. Vell Paari, the chief executive officer of Maika holdings and son of MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Vell Paari's lawyer, Datuk K. Kumarendran, told reporters after the coroner's finding that he hoped that the public perception of the case, caused by certain political parties, "will be forever buried".

None of Sujatha's family members or friends was present in court Tuesday.

Coroner Mohd Faizi Che Abu said that even though there was no post-mortem and Sujatha's urine samples were missing, he found that the circumstantial evidence and testimonies "overwhelmingly" indicated that her death was caused by paraquat ingestion.

Although family members and doctors had testified that the actress had confessed that she unknowingly took the weedkiller, Mohd Faizi said the paraquat was inside a sealed bottle and had a pungent smell.

There were also no injury on her body and expert evidence suggested that she had taken the corrosive sustance while standing, he said.

Doctors at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (TARH) in Klang confirmed that she died there at 10.25am on June 25, 2007, five days after she was admitted, he said.

On the question of why Sujatha, who lived in a Jalan Ipoh condominium here, was taken to the Klang hospital instead of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, the coroner accepted the reasons given by TARH's Dr S. P. Saktiveloo, who is also Vell Paari's cousin, that he had managed to cut waiting time and monitor Sujatha's condition there.

This was supported by the expert evidence of Prof Madya Sharum Abdul Wahid.

"I cannot fault the call by the doctor (Dr Saktiveloo) as he, at the particular moment, had to balance all the possiblities and come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of the patient," the coroner said.

Mohd Faizi said that although a TARH doctor testified that it was a normal occurrence, he found it most disturbing that urine samples from Sujatha were missing because that deprived him of obtaining medical certainty that she had taken paraquat.

"This left me to rely on circumstantial evidence and oral testimony of the witnesses," he said.

Addressing the point that no post-mortem was conducted, the coroner said it was at the request of Sujatha's family members even though it was mandatory if there was a police request.

"It is equally comforting to know that after this incident, TARH had cleared any misunderstanding in respect of medico- legal cases, where a post-mortem is mandatory," added Mohd Faizi.

He rejected the possibility of a criminal element in the absence of evidence to support the testimony of Kapar Member of Parliament S. Manikavasagam that he had received anonymous letters and telephone calls alleging foul play.

On the presence of Vell Paari's photo found next to Sujatha's bed, Mohd Faizi said it showed that both of them had a close relationship.

"He could be the person the deceased was in love with but I am reluctant to decide on this issue as it has no bearing in this inquest," he added.

Vell Paari, in a statement, said the coroner's verdict proved his innocence but he was sad for Sujatha and her family.

"The name and reputation of this innocent girl have been dragged into the politcal gutter by an unscrupulous politican for his own political gain purely because she is not there to defend herself," he said.

He did not name the politician.