Forensic expert admits slipping up in Teoh autopsy

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — A government forensic pathologist today admitted erring in his post-mortem on Teoh Beng Hock, the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh’s death heard today.

Dr Shahidan Md Noor said he had concluded there was a bruise on Teoh’s neck during the second post-mortem on November 22, 2009, but admitted today that the “bruise” was likely not a pre-fall injury.

“To err is human,” said Dr Shahidan at the inquiry today.

“Now (that) I look at it, I don’t think it’s a real bruise. Before the (first) post-mortem, the mark is there. After autopsy, the mark is more pronounced,” he added.

The first autopsy was conducted on July 17, 2009, a day after Teoh’s death, by government forensic pathologists Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar.

Dr Shahidan pointed out that the “bruise” he had found was likely caused by post-mortem staining from the first autopsy, which is a degradation of blood products during decomposition.

Dr Shahidan said his colleagues would have spotted the “bruise” during the first post-mortem if it had been a real one.

“A good 24 hours had already lapsed. (So), a bruise (should) have been more pronounced,” he said.

“It (the bruise) will change to red first, because all the blood converges there, then bluish and black until decomposition sets in,” he added.

The forensic pathologist from Sungai Buloh Hospital said pictures of the first post-mortem only revealed an abrasion and reddening areas on the left side of Teoh’s neck.

“It’s not a genuine ante-mortem breakage of blood vessel,” said Dr Shahidan.

He maintained, however, that Teoh’s injuries were caused by the latter’s fatal plunge from the then-Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam.

He also said his post-mortem was inferior to the first autopsy as it was only conducted some four months after Teoh’s death.

“Because of the transient nature of marks, the second post-mortem is usually of inferior quality in terms of findings,” said Dr Shahidan.

Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, who had observed the second post-mortem, had testified in the coroner’s inquest that the bruise on Teoh’s neck could have been caused by a blunt object being pressed against his head or neck.