KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Teoh Beng Hock’s neck bruises were likely caused by invasive procedures from the first post-mortem, a government forensic pathologist told the royal panel investigating the death of the DAP aide today.
Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) today that the flaying of Teoh’s neck during the first post-mortem had likely caused the bruises, which Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand had found in the second post-mortem on November 22, 2009.
“In this case, it could be due to post-mortem staining,” said Dr Khairul at the inquiry today.
“Staining is discolouration that forms as a result of the breakdown of blood,” he added.
Dr Pornthip has testified previously that the bruise on Teoh’s neck could have been caused by a blunt object being pressed against his head or neck.
Dr Khairul said he had only found a small abrasion measuring 4 by 3 cm on Teoh’s neck, which he said was caused by the fall.
“We can’t find (the bruises) when we did the first post-mortem,” said Dr Khairul.
He pointed out that external pressure – like strangulation or a neck hold – could not have caused the abrasion as no clear external marks were present.
“(There’s also) no petechiae in the eyes,” said Dr Khairul, referring to red dots in the eye, which are caused by burst blood vessels.
Dr Khairul also said he and his counterpart from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar, had an advantage over other forensic pathologists as they had conducted the first post-mortem.
“Would you say you and Dr Prashant had the best opportunity to look at the body in its freshest form?” asked Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
“Yes,” answered Dr Khairul.
Dr Khairul said he and Dr Prashant had conducted a post-mortem on July 17 2009, a day after Teoh fatally fell from the then Selangor MACC headquarters on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam.
“(There’s a) process of decomposition,” said Dr Khairul, referring to the post-mortem staining.
“We flicked the skin open. It’s overstretched,” he added.
“These procedures may have the side effects of producing stains or marks on these parts you examined that may give results like contusions?” asked Shafee.
“Yes,” answered Dr Khairul.
Dr Khairul also disputed Dr Pornthip’s conclusion that Teoh’s skull fracture could have resulted from a beating with a blunt object.
“I’d like to see the marks on the skull. I didn’t see any,” said Dr Khairul.
He pointed out that there was no blood flow from Teoh’s skull fracture, which would have indicated a beating.
“If he’s standing (when he’s hit on the head), blood (flows) to the side,” said Dr Khairul.
“There’s no evidence of flow. There’s blood at the top of the head, just on that area,” he added.
The government pathologist said the linear fracture on the top of Teoh’s skull was caused by the fall.
Dr Pornthip has previously argued that a ring fracture should have occurred if Teoh had landed on his feet.
“It (the linear fracture) is a result of transmitted force,” said Dr Khairul yesterday.
“Possibly, during landing, the transmitted force was not transmitted hard enough to form any (ring) fracture. At the same time, his chin was struck by (the) knee and this possibly reduced transmitted force through the spine,” he added.
Dr Khairul and Dr Prashant have testified that Teoh probably jumped to his death as he had landed on his feet, which they said was indicated by fractures on both feet.
Dr Pornthip, however, has 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.
She said Teoh was likely to have been unconscious before he fell nine floors from the Selangor MACC headquarters.
Teoh was political secretary to Selangor state councillor, Ean Yong Hian Wah, at the time of death on July 16, 2009.
His body was found on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam after he had been questioned overnight by MACC officers.
The inquiry, which is chaired by Tan Sri James Foong, resumes tomorrow.