Dr Pornthip says no to Sugumaran autopsy for ‘personal reasons’, say lawyers

Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

In a sudden turn of events, Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand today declined the invitation by PKR lawyers to perform a second autopsy on C. Sugumaran, the security guard who recently died allegedly due to police brutality.

According to lawyer N. Surendran, the famed director of Thailand’s Central Institute of Forensic Science emailed him earlier today to say that she was “unable to do the autopsy for personal reasons”.

Dr Pornthip’s (picture) sudden about-turn came just shortly after PKR lawyers emailed a press statement to media organisations here, saying the Serdang Hospital has finally agreed to the autopsy and Dr Pornthip’s team is due to arrive in Malaysia on February 20.

“But now, Sugumaran’s family will have to look for other alternatives,” Surendran said.

In his earlier joint media statement with fellow PKR lawyer Latheefa Koya, the duo had said that due to public pressure, the Serdang Hospital had agreed to the second autopsy and would even ensure all necessary equipment and facilities would be available.

Earlier, the health authorities had agreed to the second autopsy, despite insisting earlier that there must be a written permission from the police or a court order.

When contacted, the police had then declined to say if they would give permission.

Dr Pornthip is the same forensic pathologist who observed Teoh Beng Hock’s second post-mortem and testified at a royal inquiry that foul play was likely involved in the DAP aide’s mysterious death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Selangor headquarters in 2009.

She is well known in Thailand for clashing with the authorities, especially for alleging police killings during then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s anti-drug campaign in 2003.

Surendran had earlier confirmed that Dr Pornthip had agreed to perform a second post-mortem on Sugumaran.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has ordered a forensic report on Sugumaran after the latter’s death was raised at a Cabinet meeting.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was directed to oversee the forensic report after MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, who is also a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had raised the security guard’s death during the Cabinet meeting. Several witnesses who saw Sugumaran collapse on a street near his home in Batu 12, Hulu Langat on January 23 have accused the policemen who arrested him of beating up the man, together with the help of a mob, after he was handcuffed.