Teoh inquest: DNA samples contaminated (Update)


  • Nation
  • Friday, 02 Oct 2009

newsdesk@thestar.com.my

SHAH ALAM: A Chemistry Department DNA expert revealed at the inquest into political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s death that one of the mystery DNA samples detected on his blazer belonged to an accident victim.

Dr Seah Lay Hong said the DNA sample tagged as Unknown Male 1 belonged to one Gopala Munian, whose post-mortem was conducted at the Klang Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) on the same day as Teoh’s.

She told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas that DNA samples were swabbed from Gopala’s three sons and wife to arrive at the match, which was 99.99% accurate.

Dr Seah added she was able to prove the paternal lineage between Gopala and his three sons through the analysis of white chromosomes, which was only relevant to males.

However, the DNA sample found at the tear region of the belt still remains a mystery, as the other sample taken from another accident victim Jeganathan Rengan was not a match.

Dr Seah said DNA samples were harvested from Jeganathan’s wife, mother and two children.

The remains of both men, who had died of severe head injuries due to a motor vehicle accident, had been autopsied by HTAR’s Dr Saravanan Kaniapan barely hours before HTAR senior consultant pathologist Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Universiti Malaya Medical Center forensic pathologist Dr Prashant Sambekar had conducted Teoh’s post-mortem on July 17.

Dr Seah also conceded it must be contamination that resulted in Gopala’s DNA appearing on Teoh’s clothing as the post-mortem table may not have been properly sterilized.

Dr Saravanan, who took the stand after Dr Seah, said the post-mortem table is merely cleaned with water if the deceased did not die of contagious or communicable diseases.

Dr Saravanan, who had taken the photographs for Dr Khairul Azman during Teoh’s post-mortem, also told the inquest it was the hospital attendants who cleaned the post-mortem tables.

The inquest was adjourned to Oct 14 and Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy director Hishamuddin Hashim, head of investigation unit Hairul Ilham Hamzah and enforcement officer Arman Alies would be called to testify.

It is also believed that renowned Thai pathologist Dr Porntip Rojanasunan will give her expert opinion at the inquest on Oct 21.

Teoh, 30, the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was summoned to the Selangor MACC office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam here on July 15 to be queried over alleged disbursement of state funds.

He was found dead at the building’s fifth floor service corridor the following day.

Read below for what transpired this morning:

12:13pm: Court adjourned to Oct 14 after reaching an understanding that the psychiatrist can submit a report on Teoh's state of mind based on the testimonies of the MACC officers in court and interviews with Teoh's family members.

11:49am: Coroner: If we call the psychiatrist to present a report to establish Teoh’s state of mind, we can limit it to the scope of witnesses that have been called before.

11.43am: Gobind says he has brought a witness before to establish the nature of the interrogation by the MACC officers. Hence it was unacceptable that these people are going to give information to a psychiatrist who will evaluate Teoh’s state of mind.

11.38am: Court resumes. Gobind says it is completely unfair to allow a psychiatrist to interview MACC officers in private and then come and testify in court.

11.00am: Court takes a break.

10:54am: Gobind says that court cannot rely on psychiatrist's testimony because the lawyers do not know what happened at the interviews of Teoh's family and friends conducted by forensic psychiatrist (fore psychiatric evaluation) prior to psychaitist taking the stand.

"We don't know who has been interviewed. We don't know what they said. The interviews were not done under oath. we can't test that," says Gobind.

10:43am: Saravanan agrees with coroner that if autopsy table was not properly sterilised, DNA traces will remain. Coronor releases him from the stand.

10:40am: To a question from Malik, Saravanan says he was involved in Teoh's autopsy as the photographer on the orders of pathologist Dr Khairul Azman, senior consultant of forensices at the hospital and the 10th witness

10:30am: Gobind asks how the autopsy table is cleaned. Saravanan says that normally attendants clean the table with water and special chemicals.

10:25am: He says he conducted two post-mortems on July 17 at 8.30am on Gopala and on Jeganathan at 10am. The two had died of severe head injuries due to a motor vehicle accident. Teoh's autopsy was done of the same table at 12noon on the same day on July 17.

10:24am: 26th witness Dr K. Saravanan, 39, medical officer, formerly at Forensics Department, currently at Ear, Nose and Throat Department of Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, Klang, takes the stand.

10:21am: Coroner: Post-mortem conducted was conducted on Gopala before it was conducted on Teoh?

Dr Seah: Yes.

Dr Seah conceded there was a possiblity that contamination could have happened because the auopsy table was not properly sterilised. Dr Seah is released from the stand. It yet to be revealed who this Gopala is.

10:10am: In response to Gobind Singh's query, Dr Seah confirms that one male DNA was identified as Gopala but the other DNA was still unknown.

10:05am: After tests, she says, one male was M. Gopala with 99.99% very high certainty. His DNA was found on Teoh's blazer. Jeganathan's DNA did not match the DNA found at the tear region of the waist belt worn by Teoh.

09:50am: Dr Seah says that she was asked to 'test out' two other bodies which were ready for post mortem. The bodies were tagged Gopala and Jeganathan.

09:47am: Inquest resumes. Ninth witness Dr Seah Lay Hong, a serology and DNA specialist takes the stand.

Related Stories: Teoh Inquest: DNA sample identified MACC fails in bid to stay inquest proceedings Court of Appeal orders Teoh's inquest to proceed Tuesday Teoh inquest: Torture testimony ruled relevant Teoh would not speak, looked worried, says officer Teoh Inquest: Grilling over MACC 'torture' report

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