Thursday, November 5, 2009

Teoh's remains can be exhumed, says coroner


SHAH ALAM: Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas has allowed an application made by deceased political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s brother Meng Kee to exhume his remains for a second post-mortem.

The details of the second post-mortem, including who will perform it and when, will be decided when the inquest into Teoh’s death resumes on Nov 9.

Although Azmil Muntapha gave his consent for renowned Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojansunand to be present at the proposed post-mortem, she will not be able to actively participate in it due to certain legal procedural issues.

This is because only a practising physician registered with the Malaysian medical board can do so. as stipulated under the Medical Act 1971.

Counsel holding a watching brief for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Datuk Abdul Razak Musa also pointed out that the Mahidol University, where Dr Pornthip acquired her medical degree, was not among the 250 universities recognised by the same Act.

“It is clear under the law that Dr Pornthip cannot conduct the post-mortem,” said Abdul Razak.

Abdul Razak, who however did not object to the second post-mortem, said the MACC would be sending its own pathologist to attend and audit the findings.

Meanwhile, counsel holding a watching brief for Teoh’s family Gobind Singh Deo said the application to exhume Teoh’s remains did not name Dr Pornthip because of the legal issues involved.

“But she should be given the liberty to be there,” said Gobind, adding that Dr Pornthip should attend the post-mortem since it was she who testified that Teoh’s death was probably 80% due to homicide.

Azmil Muntapha then gave his nod for Dr Pornthip to be present at the post-mortem and ordered University Malaya Medical Centre’s Dr Prashant Samberkar and Klang Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital forensic pathologist Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim to also be present at the post-mortem.

Both pathologists had performed the first post-mortem on Teoh’s remains.

Lawyer appointed to represent the government Tan Hock Chuan also said he had no objections to a second post-mortem.

“The family is entitled to find out what may have happened,” said Tan.

It is believed that the post-mortem will be conducted on Nov 14 as Dr Pornthip is said to be attending a conference in Malaysia at that time.

Teoh, who was the political aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was summoned for questioning by the MACC at its Selangor office on the 14thfloor of Plaza Masalam here on July 15 over the alleged irregular disbursement of state funds.

He was found dead on the building’s 5th floor service corridor the following day.

Dr Pornthip, who testified at the inquest last month, had said there were finger-like marks on Teoh’s neck which may indicate manual strangulation.

She had also added the injuries to his anal region appeared as if something had been shoved up into his anus.

Teoh’s younger sister Lee Lan, who was in court with Meng Kee on Wednesday, said the family will wait for Azmil Muntapha to fix the post-mortem date before making arrangements for pre-exhumation prayers.