Sujatha inquest: It was suicide, claims family’s lawyer


mages@thestar.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: Actress K. Sujatha committed suicide for reasons best known to her, her family’s lawyer insisted at the inquest into her death.

Datuk K. Kumaraendran, who also acted for Sujatha’s former employer and close friend S. Vell Paari, said the family was not privy to the reasons and no third party was involved in her death.

He said Vell Paari’s lavish attention on her could not be associated with her death.

Vell Paari, the son of MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, had bought the actress an RM420,000 condominium, was a guarantor for her car loan and had financed her two brothers’ education.

She had worked as his personal assistant and was head of the corporate department at his company.

Sujatha, 29, who had acted in several Tamil dramas, movies and commercials, died at a hospital in Klang three days after she was admitted on June 25, 2007.

Kumaraendran said coroner Mohd Faizi Che Abu could not fail to reach a “positive conclusion” merely because there was doubt on some minor points.

He said the coroner had to consider the forensic expert’s evidence which “confirmed” that Sujatha had drunk paraquat on her own accord because there were no splash marks on her.

Kumaraendran said the coroner had to look into the circumstantial evidence which “irresistibly showed” that Sujatha had committed suicide and that she had died of paraquat poisoning.

He said Sujatha’s father, K. Krishnan, 53, had also ruled out foul play, adding that the court should consider the testimony of Sujatha’s younger brother K. Surenthiran, who said he had bought the paraquat on her request.

“Sujatha had claimed that she wanted the paraquat for her friend. There is no interested party here,” he told the coroner.

He said Sujatha had been treated by seven specialists upon her admission to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang and she had not complained to anyone, including her friends who visited her there, of any foul play.

He said Sujatha was even queried by Vell Paari’s cousin and personal doctor Dr S.P. Sakti Vello who had treated her, adding that she had told Dr Sakti and her brother that she had drunk the paraquat unknowingly.

“She had claimed that she had thought it was a cough mixture,” he said.

Kumaraendran said her two brothers had no motive against the post-mortem being carried out other than to spare her the social stigma of having committed suicide.

Upon being queried by the coroner, he said it was not the duty of the coroner to find out the reasons behind the suicide.

He admitted there could have been negligence on the part of certain doctors who had failed to determine if she was pregnant, but claimed that this did not make a difference to the case.

DPP Geethan Ram Vincent said the coroner had to evaluate the evidence given by 24 deponents over her cause of death.

He said the evidence was important to determine when, where, how and in what manner Sujatha died and also whether any person is criminally concerned in the cause of her death.

DPP Geethan said the testimony by Vell Paari and Dr Sakti that the deceased had never given her reasons for drinking paraquat “were difficult to believe.”

He said there were also weaknesses in the system and procedures at the hospital, including a failure to do a test to determine if the deceased was pregnant; the disappearance of urine and blood samples; and its failure to carry out a post-mortem.

He said Surenthiran’s testimony that he had bought paraquat for the deceased was “really suspicious.”

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