KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 -- The Coroner’s Court here has questioned the motives of an investigating officer (IO) tasked with the Ivana Smit case, following its ruling earlier today that the Dutch model’s death was a misadventure.
Coroner Mahyon Talib, who made the ruling, said Faizal Abdullah could have done a better job when the case unfolded in 2017. She also asked why he had not changed the sudden death report (SDR) to an investigation paper (IP). “He could have taken more evidence (with an IP). Why didn’t he do this? “He should also have checked the unit for any alcoholic drinks and so on and passed this to the forensics department for analysis and DNA testing. This was not done.” Mahyon also said Faizal had failed to order the first IO for the case, Sergeant Haliza Hamdan, to do so despite it being common practice for the police.
An SDR is usually opened when the deceased is believed to have died due to natural causes. IPs are more general in nature and take into consideration other causes of death such as murder and foul play. An SDR was opened before the police went to the scene on Dec 7, 2017. SN Nair, who represented Smit’s family, had questioned Faizal during the inquest into her death last year for not choosing to open an IP. Despite the testimony of three police witnesses at the crime scene that Smit was found in suspicious circumstances, Mahyon had acknowledged that the SDR was opened on the instruction of Faizal’s superiors. She also criticised Faizal for failing to further question American-Kazakh couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz despite their “suspicious” statements on their activities on Dec 7.
“It is a mystery and definitely a tragedy that Faizal rejected this and did not do the right thing,” she said in her written judgment, referring to their statements to the police. Smit had been staying with the couple in their 20th-floor unit at CapSquare Residence near here on the day she was found dead. They were the last people to see Smit alive. Smit, 18, was found sprawled in the nude on the balcony of a sixth-floor unit on the afternoon of Dec 7. Faizal had concluded, among others, that the couple was innocent and required no further investigation. Shortly after, they fled the country. They did not return to testify in the inquest. Mahyon also criticised pathologist Dr Nurliza Abdullah whom she said had made assumptions on how Smit died based on pictures of the scene instead of going there to see it for herself. She also reiterated her belief that Smit had been alive at 6.50am, as the latter was talking to her boyfriend, Lukas Kramer, at the time. She said the opinion of Dutch pathologist Dr Frank Van der Goot that the injuries at the back of Smit’s neck and on her hands were older than the rest of her bruises tied in with her opinion on when rigor mortis set in. She said rigor mortis began at 2pm on Dec 7, estimating that it had taken four hours from either 10am or 11am to commence, based on the exterior tropical climate. She said this, together with how Smit’s hands which looked like they were placed on a blanket when she was found, would have made it impossible for her to be dressed, which would explain why the model was found naked.
Mahyon earlier said that there was no criminal element found in Smit’s death. She also said Smit had died between 6.50am and 2pm, and had likely fallen to her death from a high place. She said hyperthermia could have occurred, as testified by a witness, as bottles of apple cider were found at the scene which could have been laced with drugs. But Mahyon said she had ruled the model’s death as a misadventure as the court could not determine what had happened between Smit, Alex and Luna on Dec 7.