Updated 4:20pm, 14 Aug 2009
SHAH ALAM, 14 Aug 2009: It is possible that political aide Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide by jumping off a high place, an inquest into his death was told today
Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim, 51, senior medical consultant at the Forensics Department, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, said his finding was based on the absence of any signs of a struggle near the window where Teoh was believed to have fallen from the 14th floor office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at Plaza Masalam here on 16 July.
“There was no bloodstain, smashed glass or any items scattered near the window, and a MACC pen, which was in Teoh’s pocket, was still there.
“The DNA test also found no DNA traces from the MACC officers. The injuries [on Teoh’s body] did not show any signs of a struggle and were consistent with a fall, ” he said when questioned by government-appointed lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, who is assisting in the inquest.
Teoh, 30, who was political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam after giving a statement in an investigation into alleged abuse of state government funds.
Questioned by Tan on the possibility of Teoh having been drowned, Dr Khairul said there was no indication.
He also ruled out the possibility that Teoh’s death was accidental as it was hard to believe that someone in a conscious state would slip while standing near the window as the place was not slippery and was carpeted.
“However, there is a possibility that it could have happened when Teoh tried to open the window wide and he was sleepy. But this could be questioned because if Teoh had slipped, with the window at his waist level, and fallen, he would have landed in a different position, probably, the head or body first. This is just a possibility,” he added.
Dr Khairul said his findings were based on the post-mortem and toxicology reports, as well as checks at the scene of the incident on 16 and 22 July.
He said that based on the toxicology report, Teoh was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
He also told the court that there were several possibilities for a person to fall from a high place: he [or she] could fall accidentally, jump off on his [or her] own, or be thrown or pushed, Dr Khairul said.
However, lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who is a watching brief for Teoh’s family in the inquest, said the theory that Teoh committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam was baseless and could not be accepted because it was not supported by evidence.
“I put it to you that you are wrong. This is not a case of the deceased jumping and committing suicide because there is no shoeprint or fingerprint on the window.
“This theory on suicide is based on [nonexistent] facts because you, yourself, did not conduct checks to support the theory,” he told Dr Khairul.
Gobind questioned why there was no shoeprint on the window sill if Teoh had stood on it before jumping.
Dr Khairul Azman replied, “Perhaps, there was, but it could not be seen. I checked but didn’t see it. It is not easy to find a shoeprint near the window area because the place is carpeted.”
He then demonstrated how Teoh could have fallen from the window, by lifting his right leg and then his left out of the witness stand, with both hands holding the railing (as the window sill), before positioning himself outside the stand and pretending to jump.
Following the demonstration, Gobind wanted to know why there was no fingerprint on the window sill.
“There was none. Fingerprints should be detected with suitable tools, but we don’t have them in my laboratory,” Dr Khairul said, adding that he also did not ask the police to test for fingerprints.
To another question on why no shoeprint was found outside the window where Teoh was alleged to have stood before jumping, he said if the shoe soles were dusty, they could be easily seen.
When Gobind suggested that one of Teoh’s shoes was purposely thrown out of the window after his body was thrown to show elements of homicide in his death, Dr Khairul said in his opinion, the shoe had come off Teoh’s foot because of strong impact.
“Would you agree with me that there was a possibility of the deceased being thrown out first, then the shoe?” Gobind asked, to which Dr Khairul said yes, there was a possibility.
On the friction marks on Teoh’s shoe, Dr Khairul said they were not caused by dragging but was due to landing on the floor after falling from a high place.
“In my opinion, there was no sign to show that Teoh was dragged, but I did detect friction marks on the right shoe, which was on his foot, and on the floor where the body was found,” he told the court.
From the friction marks on the floor, he deduced that was where Teoh had landed.
Dr Khairul said in his opinion, Teoh landed legs first. He did not find any signs on the 14th floor to show that Teoh was dragged before he was found dead.
Yesterday, investigating officer Chief Inspector Mazli Jusoh, 31, from the forensics branch of the Selangor police contingent, said there was a possibility of Teoh being dragged before he was found dead.
On the DNA of two unknown men found on Teoh’s belt and jacket, Dr Khairul said it could have happened during the process of removing Teoh’s clothing in the mortuary.
He said he visited the scene of the incident twice, but on his second visit on 22 July did not find anything new which could facilitate his investigations.
Hearing before Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas continues on Monday. — Bernama