IGP, three others to file memorandum of appearance in mother of Dutch model's suit

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Home Minister, and two others have been ordered to file their memorandum of appearance in a suit brought by the mother of the late Dutch model, Ivana Esther Robert Smit (pic), before Dec 9.

The suit was filed by Christina Carolina Gerarda Johanna Verstappen, 56, against the IGP, Dang Wangi police district investigating officer Asst Supt Faizal Abdullah, the Home Minister and the Malaysian Government, for alleged breach of statutory duties and negligence in the investigation to determine the cause of her daughter's death three years ago.

Verstappen's counsel, Datuk S.N. Nair, told reporters that the court instructed the defendants to file their memorandum of appearance before Dec 9.

"Today is set for case management of this case before High Court deputy registrar Maslinda Selamat through e-review and the court fixed Dec 23 for further case management for parties to get further instructions from the court," he said.

In a civil case, the defendants have to enter appearance within 14 days after the writ of summons has been served. The defendants can either appear personally or through a solicitor at the court.

On Nov 25, Nair told the media that he had served the suit to the defendants on Nov 25.

In her statement of claim, which was filed on Nov 20, Verstappen said her 18-year-old daughter was found dead on the sixth floor of CapSquare Residence, in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 7, 2017 after falling from the 20th floor of the condominium unit owned by American couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almazkyzy.

Verstappen said on or about the evening of Dec 7, 2017, she was informed about the death of her daughter and immediately flew to Kuala Lumpur from the Netherlands to verify and inquire into the same.

She said upon arrival in Malaysia on Dec 9, 2017, she was asked by the defendants to identify the deceased at the morgue at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), and she was also then informed by the defendants and one Sjn Haliza (the first investigating officer) that her daughter’s nude body was found on the balcony of the sixth-floor condo and her daughter had committed suicide.

She added that the defendants had opened a Sudden Death Report (SDR) on Dec 7, 2017 and had proceeded to conclude the case as death caused by natural cause or suicide.

Verstappen said she could not accept the aforesaid conclusion on her daughter’s death by the defendants and Sjn Haliza as she found it highly unbelievable, incredible and incredulous and was also aghast and appalled that the defendants had only opened an SDR.

Therefore, she contended that the action or omissions by the defendants were in clear breach of the standard operating procedures (SOP) and best practices in police investigations.

She further said that the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) then rightly and duly ordered an inquest to be held to determine the cause of her daughter’s death and on March 8, 2019, Coroner Mahyon Talib delivered her verdict as "misadventure".

Not being satisfied with the Coroner's verdict, Verstappen appealed to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and on Nov 22, 2019, High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah set aside the Coroner's verdict and replaced it with a verdict of "Death by person or persons unknown” and ordered the Attorney General to direct the Royal Malaysia Police to begin further investigations.

She claimed that the defendants failed or neglected to carry out their statutory duties, deliberately or otherwise, and acted in breach of their statutory duties owed to the deceased and to her.

Verstappen contended that the police had committed negligence when they failed to cordon the crime scene or conduct proper investigation against Johnson and Almazkyzy.

"The defendants also failed to detain, extradite, and secure the duo’s attendance during the inquest as the key witnesses. The police also failed to re-investigate the case in a reasonable manner as per ordered by the High Court,” she added.

The plaintiff is seeking a mandamus order for the first defendant, IGP, to remove the second defendant (Faizal) from the current task force to investigate the incident.

She is also a mandamus order to reopen the investigations of the case and an order for the IGP, the Home Minister and the government to issue a warrant of arrest and extradite Johnson and Almazkyzy for further questioning and possible prosecution.- Bernama

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