Wednesday, 5th January 2010
The coroner returned an open verdict today in the inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock two years ago, a decision which means it cannot ascertain how the political aide died.
The packed courtroom broke into a collective sigh as coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas delivered his verdict while Teoh’s mother wept uncontrollably.
Azmil also ruled out suicide and homicide even though he raised doubts that Teoh could have exited unaided from the window on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam before falling to his death following overnight interrogation by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers.
“After evaluating the evidence of Dr Shahidan, Dr Pornthip and Professor Dr Vanezis, I find that the exists sufficient evidence to confirm this injury as a pre-fall injury,” Azmil said, while reading out his verdict to the attentive courtroom.
He said he had weighed the neck injury together with witnesses who had accused the MACC of previously torturing witnesses and suspects in the course of their interrogation and then covering them up.
“However, I also find that there is no sufficient evidence to confirm beyond all reasonble doubt that this pre-fall injury did in fact, facilitate or resulted or contributed to the demise of the deceased,” the coroner added.
Earlier, he said that the likely time of Teoh’s death was approximately between 7.15am and 11.15am on July 16, 2009. This was based on testimony from pathologists.
The coroner said it was clear that Teoh died at the service corridor of the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam.
The cause of death was a result of multiple injuries sustained in his fall, he said.
The coroner also found questionable the handwriting evidence surrounding a note found by police and purportedly written by Teoh.
Despite today’s verdict, Section 339(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that once an inquiry is closed, the Public Prosecutor can still direct the coroner to re-open the inquiry.
A stricken Teoh Lee Lan wipes away her tears as she emerges from the courtroom after hearing the coroner deliver an open verdict in her brother's death.
Teoh’s family has demanded a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) be set up to directly probe the circumstances surrounding the 30-year-old’s death to find out the real cause — including if he was pressured to jump.
Teoh was political secretary to Selangor state councillor, Ean Yong Hian Wah, at the time of death.
His body was found on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam after he had been questioned overnight by the MACC at its then Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor of the same building.
The anti-graft officers were investigating a claim his boss was misusing state funds.
The police initially classified the case as sudden death; they did not rule out foul play.
A Cabinet minister triggered a public outcry when he suggested that Teoh may have committed suicide, a claim which was denounced by the latter’s family.
Teoh was to have registered his marriage with his then two-month pregnant fiancée, Soh Cher Wei, that same week.
Following the outcry, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak met with the Teohs and Soh on July 28.
The PM assured the family “no stone will be left unturned in finding out the real cause of death and, if there is any foul play, action will definitely be taken”.
Najib said the Cabinet has agreed to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to probe further if the inquest result is not satisfactory.
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