Questions raised in inquest into naval cadet’s death

IPOH: The post-mortem on the late navy cadet officer J. Soosaimanicckam (pic) should have been conducted by a trained forensic pathologist instead of a medical officer, the Coroner’s Court here has heard.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland & University College Dublin Malaysia Campus (RUMC) Associate Professor Datuk Seri Dr Bhupinder Singh said in cases involving a death at a government training facility, it would be more appropriate for an expert pathologist to carry out the post-mortem.

Dr Bhupinder, 71, a forensic pathologist with 26 years of experience, retired as the head of the Forensic Department of Hospital Penang before being attached to RUMC.He was testifying in the inquest to provide his expert opinion on the case.

He said in the case of Soosaimanicckam, it was not appropriate for a medical officer to carry out the post-mortem examination.

“A lot of findings were overlooked in the post-mortem examination carried out in order to come up with a conclusive cause of death. The cause of death given as pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs) is just a finding, but it would have been better to investigate what led to it,” he told Sessions Court judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad, who was the coroner at the inquest.

The inquest seeks to find out the cause of Soosaimanicckam’s death during his training at a naval base on May 19, 2018, a week after reporting for duty on May 12.

Soosaimanicckam was pronounced dead at the Lumut Armed Forces Hospital.

Mahajoth Singh and Zaid Abd Malek of Lawyers for Liberty are representing Soosaimanicckam’s family, while Evangelin Simon Silvaraj is acting for the government.

Evangelin pointed out the medical officer had testified orally in court that a bacterial infection had caused fluid in the lungs leading to respiratory failure and eventually Soosaimanicckam’s death.

To that, Dr Bhupinder said the doctor should have included that piece of information in the post-mortem report, and should have further examined the source of the bacterial infection.

On findings that the deceased had suffered from heat stroke, he said he did not agree with that as nowhere was it stated in the medical reports that the temperature of the deceased was taken during the resuscitation process.

He said from the available history about the deceased having difficulty breathing, muscle aches, and renal failure, this would suggest that he probably suffered from leptospirosis from the start of the training session.

“However, if he had been referred to a medical institution and treated earlier, he would have recovered.

“Those suffering from leptospirosis will normally have flu-like symptoms, and the symptoms can worsen in the next four to five days, but with proper treatment, more than 90% of patients can recover. In this case, he would have gone into massive renal failure with pulmonary haemorrhages leading to respiratory failure,” he added.

Questioned by Mahajothon on whether the findings would have been different if the post-mortem had been conducted on the day of the death instead of the next day, Dr Bhupinder replied “no”.

On another question by the lawyer that if it was right for the doctor to wait to do the post-mortem the next day after the investigating officer told him that there was no foul play involved, Dr Bhupinder said: “The investigating officer is only telling what he had heard or seen, and doctors do not take advice from them but look at the cases holistically to prove if the death occurred due to criminal elements or was due to natural causes.”

“Also, the bruises on the body will remain whether the post-mortem was conducted on the same day or the next day. What is more important in this case, was for more blood and urine samples to have been taken,” he added. The hearing continues on April 19.

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Nation

Don’t overlook Labuan in Trans-Borneo Railway project, says group
Tabling of smoking control bill still on track, says Dr Zaliha
Process of setting up Anti-Sexual Harassment Tribunal ongoing, says Nancy
Hotel association wants Melaka govt to address issue of illegal short-term rentals
Identities of nine individuals misused in RM24.8mil Kesedar CBT case, says Zahid
Najib seeking early date for SRC money laundering trial
Licences of two express bus operators suspended from June 12
JAINJ assures that sex party will not go on in Johor
Man arrested over fatal stabbing of ex-fiance in KK shopping mall
Sarawak ready to host National Journalists' Day next year

Others Also Read