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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Teoh Inquest: It’s not suicide, it's not homicide, Coroner says

KUALA LUMPUR: The death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock was not a suicide and it was not a homicide, Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas ruled on Wednesday.
It is, therefore, an open verdict.
"The neck injury and the suicide note are the crucial evidence.
"Two theories of cause of death were advanced - death by homicide and death by suidide," he said.
"The handwriting of the suicide note was only similar to the deceased's. I'm not qiualified to say it's a suicide note.
"I rule out death of the deceased by suicide as there are unsettled issues in the question of suicide," he said.
He then ruled out suicide as the cause of Teoh's death.
He also ruled out homicide, saying that the inquest had established that Teoh had sustained pre-fall injuries but there was no evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the injuries constributed to death.
He gave out the much-awaited verdict on Wednesday as a huge crowd gathered inside and outside the second floor of the annex building of the court complex.
Teoh's family were in tears and refused to comment until they spoke to their counsel.
The situation was chaotic as pressmen jostled to take photos and get comments.
A large group of supporters held up banners outside court complex demanding a Commission of Inquiry.
Teoh, 30, political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16 2009 on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he had given a statement at the office of the Selangor branch of the commission on the 14th floor of the same building.
The Attorney-general's office directed the inquest to be held since Teoh's death raised questions of whether it was suicide or homicide.
It was widely reported that he had died hours after being questioned by the commission on alleged misuse of Selangor government allocations.
The inquest, scheduled to be completed within a month, dragged on until Nov 4 last year.
Thirty-seven witnesses testified, including well-known Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand.
Dr Pornthip, who was invited by the Selangor government, raised controversy when she claimed that Teoh could have been murdered, leading to his body being exhumed for a second post-mortem.
However, when the court was expected to hear her expert view after the second autopsy, Pornthip caused further uproar when she alleged that she had been warned been threatened and warned not to attend the inquest.
Appearing in court again on Aug 18, she said the second post-mortem indicated that Teoh was not assaulted or tortured, but maintained that his death was not a suicide.
British forensics expert Professor Dr Peter Vanezis, engaged by the anti-corruption commission, testified that Teoh was not unconscious when he plunged to his death.
Dr Vanezis said the distribution of injuries indicated that Teoh was fully conscious and orientated at the time.
He also had testified that the second post-mortem, which was supervised by him, revealed that none of the injuries showed that he was killed by other means or thrown out of the window. - theStar

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