Take second Teoh autopsy with pinch of salt, says government pathologist

Posted: March 6, 2011 in News
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Source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/take-second-teoh-autopsy-with-pinch-of-salt-says-government-pathologist/

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 3 — Teoh Beng Hock’s neck “bruises” found in the second post-mortem were not sustained before his death, a government forensic pathologist told the royal panel investigating the death of the DAP aide today.

Dr Shahidan Md Noor said the two dark “bruises” were likely caused by post-mortem staining from the first autopsy, which is a degradation of blood products during decomposition.

“We need to take this so-called bruise with a good pinch of salt because there’s no way to say it’s ante-mortem, because the first post-mortem has not shown it,” said Dr Shahidan at the inquiry today.

“The quality of the second post-mortem is much more inferior than the first post-mortem,” he added.

Dr Shahidan said he had conducted the second post-mortem on November 22, 2009, while the first post-mortem was performed on July 17, 2009, a day after Teoh’s death.

Two government forensic pathologists, Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar, had conducted the first post-mortem.

Dr Prashant said today he only found a small pinkish-reddish abrasion on Teoh’s neck that was likely caused by a pen in the latter’s blazer pocket during the fall.

“As mentioned in the first post-mortem, blood clots (were) under the neck. No visible injuries on the skin,” said Dr Prashant.

He and Dr Khairul have also insisted that the bruises found in the second autopsy were a result of post-mortem staining.

“This is because of the breakdown of hemoglobin (that) has dispersed through the skin and caused post-mortem staining of the neck,” said Dr Prashant.

Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, who had observed the second post-mortem, 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 Shahidan said, however, that the bruises found in the second autopsy could not be the only factor in determining pre-fall injuries.

“Just because they’re present, there is not enough to say there’s ante-mortem injuries,” said the forensic pathologist from Hospital Sg Buloh.

Dr Khairul testified yesterday that Teoh was unlikely to have been strangled or held in a neck lock as there were no clear external marks on the neck or red dots in the eye.

Dr Shahidan urged the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) today not to over-emphasise the bruises found in the second post-mortem.

“If it’s a real one, we’ll see it in the next 24 hours,” said Dr Shahidan.

“But when my colleague examined (Teoh’s body) in the first post-mortem, they could not find it. So I don’t think we should place so much weight on it,” he added.

Dr Pornthip has said Teoh’s fatal plunge was likely a homicide, highlighting the bruise on the 30-year-old political secretary’s neck.

She also said Teoh was likely unconscious when he fell nine floors from the then Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam.

But Dr Shahidan said Teoh was probably conscious when he fell because the latter’s body was slightly bent before he hit the ground and landed on his right side.

“It’s a natural reflex. When one falls, one takes a stance to absorb the forces,” said Dr Shahidan.

“So I believe he was conscious when he fell,” he added.

The forensic pathologist, however, could not explain why a cloth, which had been draped over Teoh’s neck during the post-mortem, was untainted despite staining on the skin.

“I can’t answer that one,” said Dr Shahidan.

Teoh was the political secretary to Selangor state executive 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 on the 14th floor of the same building.

Teoh was a witness in investigations against his boss for abuse of state funds.

The inquiry, which is chaired by Federal Court judge, Tan Sri James Foong, resumes on Monday.

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