Court sets aside coroner's ruling that Dutch model's death due to misadventure

  • Nation
  • Friday, 22 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The High Court here has ruled that the death of Dutch model, Ivana Esther Robert Smit, was caused by "persons known or unknown" and subsequently overturned a coroner’s ruling that the death was due to misadventure.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah reached the verdict after allowing an application by Smit’s family to review a coroner’s ruling in March this year.

In his judgment on Friday (Nov 22), Justice Sequerah said that under the circumstances, there were insufficient investigation done on possibility of death by homicide.

"The coroner, in her decision had agreed with the findings of a Dutch pathologist, Dr Frank Van Der Goot that Smit and her hosts, couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, might have engaged in a struggle prior to the death.

"Despite the court agreeing with the expert witness, she returned a verdict of misadventure. This was inconsistent with her findings in respect to Dr Frank’s evidence, ” the judge said.

He then set aside the coroner’s decision and directed the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to instruct the police to investigate the cause of the death of the 19-year-old model.

Throughout the inquest, it was revealed that Smit’s body had signs of arm grip, trauma at the back of the head and DNA of Johnson under her nails.

It was also disclosed that based on testimonies of witnesses, including the investigating officer, the court found that the deceased died due to a fall from a high place.

Smit who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, was found sprawled in the nude on the sixth floor condo of CapSquare Residence in Kuala Lumpur, 14 floors below Johnson and Almaz’s 20th floor condo, on Dec 7,2017.

Coroner Mahyon Talib in her judgment earlier this year said the court found no one criminally liable for the model’s death.

The couple claimed to have had sex with Smit before her death but maintained their innocence, saying the model died due to her own "youthful recklessness” but they did not testify during the inquest.

Smit’s family was represented by lawyer Sankara Nair, while deputy public prosecutor Kirubin Subramaniam appeared for prosecution.

Speaking to reporters after the proceedings, Nair said that the family was pleased with the court’s decision.

"I hope the police will investigate Smit’s death as a homicide, ” he added.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Dutch police, Gerald van Heerwaarde, said the decision would be relayed to the headquarters.

"We will see how we can assist the Malaysian police in their investigations, ” he said. - Bernama

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