Court finds death of doctor in 2010 non-conclusive

ALOR SETAR: A coroner’s court delivered an open verdict at the inquest of Dr Sebastian Joseph’s death, nine years after he was found kneeling in a pool of blood with his fists clenched at his quarters on Nov 17, 2010.

Sessions Court judge Murtazadi Amran held that Dr Sebastian’s cause of death could not be ascertained.

“The court, after studying the case, has decided that the cause of death is non-conclusive and hereby delivers an open verdict,” he said when reading the verdict on behalf of Sessions Court judge Azman Abu Hassan who had presided as the coroner in the inquest.

On Nov 17, 2010, Dr Sebastian, who was then a 30-year-old medical officer at a government clinic in Kuah, Langkawi was found dead mysteriously at his quarters after he failed to answer calls from his family for three days.

The first post-mortem was conducted by a general practitioner, who had stated that the cause of death was “unascertained”.

Dr Sebastian’s family then spent the next five years going through a series of legal procedures to secure a second autopsy.

The Alor Setar High Court had on Jan 7, 2015 allowed an application for Dr Sebastian’s body to be exhumed for the second autopsy and in February that year, his body was exhumed and sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

The second autopsy revealed that several organs of Dr Sebastian were not dissected or examined in the first post-mortem while those that were, such as the heart and coronary arteries, were not properly done.

The autopsy which also disclosed that traces of the drugs Pethidine and Tramadol were found in the deceased’s body, held that Dr Sebastian’s death could not be concluded.

In May last year, Dr Sebastian’s family filed a civil suit against the doctor who performed the first post-mortem, the Health Ministry and the police, seeking damages.

Counsel M. Visvanathan who represented the family in the inquest, told reporters yesterday that the civil suit will be heard at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 20 and 21.

“We will use the outcome of this inquest in the suit,” he said.

Dr Sebastian’s brother Kalliegan Anthony Joseph, 34, who was present, said he accepted the coroner’s decision but has still not come to terms with his brother’s death.

Two members from Suara Rakyat Malaysia were also present in court.

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