Live from the Teoh Beng Hock inquest

Posted on August 18, 2010



I walked in when proceedings were already underway.

Imtiaz is examining Dr Pornthip.

I just managed to catch Dr Pornthip state her view that the marks on the neck of Beng Hock were from a pre-fall injury.

She, however, did not think that the marks might have been caused by manual strangulation.

She was of the view that the marks were caused by the application of some stronger force.


She said that in her view, Beng hock was not conscious when he hit the ground. She said that the was no pathology that would support a contrary conclusion.

She said that the fact there was fracture on one side and not bilateral fractures suggest that he was not conscious when he hit the ground.


She  said that cerebral edema was another factor that suggested Beng Hock was not conscious when he hit the ground.

She also said that scratch marks on the shoes suggest that he did not fall vertically.

In theory, if there are biilateral fractures at the wrist, this might mean that the victim used his hands to protect himself. Here, there was none.

This again suggests that Beng Hock was not conscious when he fell.

Dr Pornthip disagreed with Dr Peter’s views that Beng Hock was conscious during his fall.


Imtiaz refers to page 6 of Dr Pornthip’s report.

On the matter of injury to the anal area, she said that because there was no examination of the posterior area and the sacrum during the first post-mortem. During the second autopsy, I checked and found serious fracture of the sacrum. I asked Dr Shahidan to open the posterior area to check the sacrum.

She refers to photos taken during the second autopsy.

The photo shows the fractured sacrum.

In her view, the injury to the anal area was from the fall.

She is satisfied that the injury in this area was not the result of any beating.


Page 10 of her report referred to regarding the injury to the skull.

She says that there was no ring fracture.

In the first autopsy, doctor said this injury was cuased by transfer force. However, in theory, transfer force could onlty be caused by ring fracture. Here, there was no ring fracture.

Page 11 of her report referred to.

In her view, fracture of the cervical spine in the lower level could be caused by hyper extension of the neck.

This could have been caused by an impact to the chin.

She disagreed with Dr Prashant’s view that this injury might have been caused by his own knee as hse said this would not be possible.

She explained that formalin was in the tissue and this made it difficult to turn the upper eyelid over to check for haemmorhage. Could do this with the lower eyelid.


She said found no pinpoint haemmhorage in the lower eyelid.


She maintained her earlier view about pre-fall injury, and she could  not say that Beng Hockj was consgcious when he fell. She would not go back to her earlier 80-20 figure of homicide / suicide, but she said she was now certain that this was not a case of suicide.

Imtiaz has finished with the examination of Dr Pornthip and informs the court that Gobind may have some questions.

Gobind’s on his feet.

Gobind : At the time of the second post-mortem was the diissection to ascertain if there was penetration of the anus done during the first post mortem?

Dr : No

She said that during the second post mortem she had asked for an incision to be done oin the psooterior region to ascertain if there was injury to the anus arising from penetration. This was not done during the first post mortem.

She said that whilst she was certain that this was nnot suicide, she could not say the percentage as she did not have the opportunity to investigate the crime scence.

She confirmed that as a crime scene investigator, she had occasion to investigate notes left behind.

Notes found at the crime cscene need to be investigated forensically.

DNA on the envelope containing the note needs to be checked.

Also palm print on the note or the envelope.

It is standard protocol for a search for possible notes in a crime scene where suicide is suspected.

She said it would be unreliable to rely on hand writing evidence alone.

She also said that whether delay in the production or investigation of a note found at the scene would depend on the quality of the scientific evidence carried out on the note.


Abdul Razak of MACC begins questioning Dr Pornthip.

She confirms that prior to this case, she has never testified as an expert outside Thailand.

She disagrees that an expeert cannot speculate, and says that she may need to create a hypothesis.

She disagrees that her testimony today is based on her imagination.

She agrees that an expert must be impartial.

She does not know whether her university is recognised by Malaysia, but her institute is rated fifth in Asia.

She said that she tries to help the dead by trying to get at the facts surrounding the death


She says that prior to second post mortem, she was briefed about the background of the case but that she could not remember the details.

Razak is going on and on about MACC’s version of what happened on the day that Beng Hock was called to give evidence and their allegation that he was released after 3.30am.

Raak is trying to discredit the report that she prepared of her conclusions.

Razak is badgering her about having said he was strangled. She clarifies that she did not say there was strangulation. Imtiaz stands to clarify that she had said that the injury to the neck was blunt trauma.

Now Razak is trying to badger her about her testimony regarding marks to the shoe of Beng Hock.

He now suggests that her grounds as stated in her report are all not true.

On thr ankle injury, he says this is not a pre-fall injury.

She replies that she never said that the ankle injury was a pre-fall injury.

Razak now insists that she had also made a mistake about the injury to the skull.

She disagrees with him, and suggests that his misunderstanding might be because of his lack in scientific knowledge.

She asks Razak if he is a lawyer.

He says he has been in practise for 24 years.

He now refers Dr Pornthip to a document, marked as I91.

He now insists that she had said earlier that when he fell, he was unconscious, but when he hit the ground he was conscious.

Coroner clarifies that she did not say that.

He then asks if she agrees that Beng Hock would have weighed more if he was unconscious.

She disagrees with him that the position of the body was consistent with him jumping out.

She disagrees with Razak’s suggestion that given the extent to which the window on the 14th floor could open, it would not be possible that he was trhorwn out of the window.

She said that this question needed a reconstruction of the crime scene.


Razak refers to the first post-mortem report.

He’s trying to poke holes in her evidence regarding the cerebral edema.

She says that in this case, she disagrees with him.

Razak refers to Dr Shahidan’s report, regarding his view that the neck injury might have been caused by the fall.

Imtiaz interjects and says that Razak should also point out that during cross-examination, Shahidan had conceded that the neck injury could have been pre-fall.

Imtiaz complains to the coroner that Razak’s line of questioning is making some in the court want to jump out of the window.

Razak’s now going on about how long it took Beng Hock to fall from the 14th floor. He suggests less than 10 seconds.

Imtiaz objects in that there has been no evidence led about any reconstruction efforts undertaken by the investigating officer to ascertain the approximate time.

He’s now going on about the injuries to wrists that suggest Beng Hock was conscious and tried to break his fall. She disagrees with him.

There is disagreement between Razak and Imtiaz about what exactly was the evidence if Dr Peter in this regard. Ric Wee, for the Bar, stands to clarify that his notes reflect he position taken by Imtiaz.

He now wants to know whether the bruising on the neck is internally or externally caused.

She confirms that this was externally caused.

She dismisses his suggestion that this injury could have been caused by a pen in his shirt pocket.

Razak now raises the matter of Dr Pornthip’s report not stating her view of the cause of death.

He suggests she keeps changing her position.

She disagrees with his suggestion that her views are mere conjecture.

Razak has no more questions.

Tan Hock Chuan now questions Dr Pornthip.

She confirms that based on her evidence today, she has ruled out manual strangulation.

She is of the view that there were no objects during the fall that might have caused the neck injury, as suggested by Dr Shahidan.

She agrees that the greater the height, the greater the injury.

She confirms that the skull fracture was linear rather than ring.

She agrees that the fractures were quite extensive.

She agrees that cause of death was due to multiple injuries caused from fall from a height.

Imtiaz re-examines Dr Pornthip.

He refers to I42, the 1st post mortem report.


Coroner is now asking Dr Porthip several questions. He appears to have been able to grasp the purport of her testimony, gauging form his questions.

She agrees with the coroner that the height would have a bearing on the severity of the in juries.

She confirms her view that the condition of the surface would have a bearing on the extent of the injuries.

She confirms that her conclusions are based on her experience in other cases as well as the forensic evidence.

She also confirms that the state of the ground would have a braring on the extent of the injuries.

Coroner refers too I42, the first post mortem report.

The witness is released at 12.22pm.

Gobind asks for the matter to be adjourned to enable them to get expert advise on the matter of the new evidence.

Imtiaz supports the application.

Matter adjourned to 1st September, 2010, for mention at 3pm.