Big break for Teoh’s lawyers, Pornthip to arrive Apr 19

(Harakah Daily) – Lawyers acting for Selangor political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who died in suspicious circumstances, have described the admission by a government pathologist that he could have been strangled prior to death as a major break in their quest for the truth.

Gobind Singh Deo, counsel for his family, and Malik Imtiaz, counsel for his employer the Selangor state government, wrung the hard-won admission from Sungai Buloh head pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor during cross-examination on Monday.

They are now waiting for Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, whom Gobind told Harkahdaily would arrive on April 19 to add further clarity to the case, in which the Malaysian authorities have been widely accused of trying to cover up.

“It is a very significant break. Initially all three government pathologists refused to acknowledge the possibility of strangulation even though Dr Pornthip could spot the pressure marks around Teoh’s neck just from looking at the photographs taken of the body,” Gobind told Harakahdaily.

“Now Dr Shahidan has conceded that the first autopsy conducted by the other two government doctors were not carried out in proper procedure and he has also confirmed he saw the abrasions on the neck.”

Pornthip could spot it, but not the government doctors

Shahidan had been asked to carry out the second post-mortem on Teoh after the Coroner ordered an exhumation following testimony by Dr Pornthip that there was an 80 percent chance that Teoh had been murdered.

At the start of today’s inquest, Shahidan explained that the signs to look for in cases of custodial death are pressure marks around neck for possible strangulation, and conducting dissection of limbs and muscle for signs of possible beating and internal injuries.

He agreed that both procedures were not carried out in the first autopsy and concurred with Gobind that it was strange that abrasion marks on the neck were not in the post-mortem reports issued by  Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar.

Dr Shahidan also admitted that his own report lacked details of investigations into the abrasions. In fact, his admission in court today that it was possible Teoh could have been strangled directly contradicts his report, which rules out manual strangulation although there was evidence of bruises on and contusions to Teoh’s neck.

Nevertheless, he still tried his best to defend his government colleagues against Gobind’s accusations of incompetency.

“The superficial injuries on the neck would have only been evident after 24 hours, that’s why they couldn’t see the marks. The signs of asphyxia were not apparent on Teoh Beng Hock’s neck,” Shahidan said during cross-examination. 

“If it weren’t for Dr Pornthip’s testimony, we would not know about the cause of injuries to the neck of the deceased. Now, there is a possibility that Teoh Beng Hock was strangled on the 14th floor of the MACC. Now I didn’t say strangled to death, I said strangled. These are material facts to be considered in this case,” Gobind retorted.

Plot against his boss, Ean Yong

The court has fixed March 10 for the cross-examination of Dr Shahidan to continue. It will also call on Kajang councilor Tan Boon Wah to take the witness stand.

The body of the 30-year Teoh – a former journalist – had been found on the fifth floor podium of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, where he had visited the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s 14th floor office for questioning as a witness into alleged corruption by his boss, Seri Kembangan assemblyman and state executive councilor Ean Yong Hian Wah.   

There have been widespread accusations that Ean was being victimized as part of a plot by senior Umno leaders to topple the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government. Till now, the MACC – frequently lambasted as a stooge for top Umno leaders – have not pressed any charges against Ean.

The MACC and all three government pathologists including Shahidan have alleged that Teoh committed suicide. But Teoh’s family and his employers are adamant he was murdered as he was due to register his marriage on the day his body was found. He was also looking forward to the birth of his son with his long-time fiancée Soh Cher Wei.

“We pray that more and more of the truth will be revealed as the inquest takes its course. Today was very encouraging and we hope that Beng Hock will get the justice that he deserves,” Ean told Harakahdaily.