Naval cadet murder trial: Witness claims autopsy report did not show continuity of burns as cause of death

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): A forensic expert told the High Court here Monday (Dec 28) that the autopsy report of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) naval cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain did not show that the continuity of major burns suffered by the victim had solely caused his death.

The 19th defence witness, Dr Rohayu Shahar Adnan, 49, head of Sungai Buloh Hospital Forensics Department, said this was because the conclusion given by Dr Salmah Arshad, a forensic expert from Serdang Hospital, was not supported by her (Dr Salmah’s) microscopic examination because in medicine it was necessary for such examination.

"In my opinion, the conclusion made by the pathologist who performed the post-mortem did not show the continuity that the major burns suffered by the victim was 100% cause for his death.

"If you see the witness’ statement, Dr Salmah used complicated sentences that the burns were hypovolemic shock (lack of fluid in the body), bacterial infections, damage to vital organs and electrolyte imbalance, ” she said when asked by lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad at the defence trial of 18 students accused of killing Zulfarhan.

In the previous proceedings, Dr Salmah, who was the sixth prosecution witness, told the court that the cause of death of Zulfarhan Osman was a combination of hypervolemia, heart and kidney complications.

Dr Salmah said the post mortem on the deceased found swelling of the heart and kidney failure.

Amer Hamzah further questione her on whether the 90 scald injuries on Zulfarhan Osman was due to pressing a steam iron on him 90 times.

Dr Rohayu: To answer the question, there are three answers, firstly, it is correct that the injuries were imposed 90 times and confirmed burn marks.

Amer Hamzah: How to make sure the wounds are burn injuries?

Dr Rohayu: In this case, I cannot be sure.

Amer Hamzah: What about the second and third answer (regarding 90 burn wounds)?

Dr Rohayu: For the second answer, Dr Salmah said there were overlapping wounds, so there is a possibility of more than 90 times because of the overlapping injuries while the third answer is that the probability of the injury is less than 90 times because there are some injuries based on non-burn injuries pattern.

On July 31 last year, the High Court ordered 18 UPNM students to enter their defence on charges of murdering, conspiring to murder and injuring Zulfarhan Osman.

The five accused - Muhammad Akmal Zuhairi Azmal, Muhammad Azamuddin Mod Sofi, Muhammad Najib Mohd Razi, Muhammad Afif Najmudin Azahat and Mohamad Shobirin Sabri - are facing charges of murdering Zulfarhan while Abdoul Hakeem Mohd Ali was charged with abetting the murder.

The offence was allegedly committed in room 04-10, accommodation block, Jebat hostel, UPNM, between 4.45am and 5.45am on May 22,2017.

The charges under Section 302 and Section 109 of the Penal Code provide for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

The six are also accused with 12 others of voluntarily causing hurt to Zulfarhan to extort a confession from him for a laptop theft.

They are Mohd Hafiz Fauzan Ismail, Mohamad Lukhmanul Hakim Mohd Zain, Ahmad Shafwan Berdal, Muhammad Amirul Asraff Mala, Luqman Hakim Shamsuri, Muhammad Sufi Mohd Mustapha, Noriznan Izzairi Noor Azhar, Muhamad Ashraf Abdullah, Muhammad Danial Firdaus Azmir, Muhammad Hasif, Muhammad Adib Iman and Mohamad Syazwan.

They were charged with intentionally causing hurt to the victim, to obtain confession that he had stolen a laptop, under Section 330 of the Penal Code read together with Section 34 of the same code which carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment and a fine.

The offence was allegedly committed at room 03-05, Jebat Hostel Block, UPNM, between 2.30am and 5.30am on May 21,2017.

The trial continues Tuesday (Dec 29) before justice Datuk Azman Abdullah. - Bernama

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