KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — Teoh Beng Hock was likely not strangled as there were no clear external injuries on his neck, a government forensic pathologist told the royal panel investigating the DAP aide’s death today.
Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim told the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) today that the external bruise on Teoh’s neck was not clear enough to indicate strangulation.
“There must be very clear marks on the outside of the neck showing he was strangled,” said Dr Khairul at the inquiry today.
“What I saw is a small abrasion,” he added.
Dr Khairul also claimed that red dots were not found in Teoh’s eyes, which he said were necessary to prove strangulation.
“If got strangulation, there are very obvious red dots in the eye,” said Dr Khairul.
He also said the internal haemorrhage on Teoh’s neck could have been caused by a hyper-extension of the neck, which had resulted in a fractured lower jaw and a lacerated lower lip.
“He can fall and at the same time, his leg flexed,” said Dr Khairul.
“His leg can hit the neck and this caused hyper-extension,” he added.
But Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand had testified previously that the bruises around Teoh’s neck were pre-fall injuries, which she said were caused by blunt force or trauma that exerts more force than manual strangulation.
When the commission pointed out that Dr Pornthip had said one of the bruises on Teoh’s neck could not have been caused by a bent knee, Dr Khairul said: “I’m not sure what she really means.”
Dr Pornthip, who had said Teoh did not kill himself, was a key witness called by the Selangor state government during the coroner’s inquest that returned an open verdict in Teoh’s death, ruling out both suicide and homicide.
Dr Pornthip was the only forensics expert who supported the Teoh family’s claims of foul play, although she declined to repeat her previous assertion that Teoh’s death was 80 per cent homicide.
Dr Khairul insisted today, however, that the DAP aide likely jumped to his death from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, on July 16 2009.
“From … the pattern of injuries, there is projectile during the fall,” said Dr Khairul.
“He tried to jump at a certain distance. He tried to prevent the fall to protect himself by landing on his feet,” he added.
Dr Khairul pointed out that Teoh had landed on his feet because both his feet were fractured.
“He was still alive a few minutes after he fell,” said the forensics expert from Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang.
“(There were) gas bubbles in the chest wall,” added Dr Khairul.
The government pathologist also disputed Dr Pornthip’s suggestion that a linear fracture on Teoh’s skull was a sign of pre-fall injury.
“It (the fracture) is a result of transmitted force,” said Dr Khairul.
“Ring fractures can only occur if the head is upright. In this case, no ring fractures (occurred) because maybe during the fall, his head was tilted,” he added.
Dr Khairul also claimed that Teoh’s anal injuries were caused by the fall and not by a blunt object.
“The pelvic bone fracture caused stretching of the anus,” said Dr Khairul.
“At the same time, bones from the sacrum injured the anus,” he added.
Dr Pornthip had similarly testified that Teoh’s anal injuries were a result of the fall and not a beating.
Teoh’s 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.
Teoh, 30, was the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah when he was called as a witness in MACC’s investigations against the latter for suspected abuse of funds.
The inquiry, which is chaired by Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong, resumes tomorrow.