|Manufactured evidence for money?|
One dude who was not distracted is NST's top columnist Azmi Anshar, who captured Porntip's oohs and aahs in this article Her "80pc homicide" statement will haunt her:
By Azmi Anshar
THAI forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan, she with the "punk" flamboyance, flaming hairdo and an expensive bounty on her head, has made a hazardous career taking on the authorities and dubious characters in her homeland.
Reports of the 55-year-old's exploits stood her in defiance of powerful people in Thai police and military as she scoured the "deadliest" places to uncover forensic evidence of murder and mayhem, sometimes shadowed by intimidating-looking bodyguards after her work spooked a million baht (RM100,000) bounty on her head, preferably dead.
As a response as to why she nonchalantly risks her life doing what she does, Dr Pornthip would always coil around her favourite credo: it is her duty to find truth and justice for the dead because they can't speak, especially for those killed under suspicious circumstances.
She replicated that credo precisely and pointedly when she answered questions posed on Saturday at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh Beng Hock's death on July 16, 2009, insisting that Teoh could have been strangled prior to his fall which was the cause of death.
In that sense, she speaks in exactness -- it is what right-thinking people expect of her profession -- but she makes it sound condescendingly heroic, as opposed to the thousands of other forensic scientists worldwide doing the same job, some better, but minus the in-your-face facade, opportunistic soundbytes and sensationally glib pronouncements.
Dr Pornthip has proven herself to be no shrinking violet, demonstrated by her perilous head-butting with Thai politicians, law enforcement and military on how the dead died or were killed, but that was the easy part; she almost always established evidence favouring her findings and outburst.
But her testimony on Teoh had been decidedly prickly. Before the inquest into Teoh's death in April last year, she concluded, without the benefit of a personally-conducted autopsy or one that is closely observed, that Teoh's death was "80 per cent homicide" simply by looking at pre-autopsy photographs of Teoh's body.
The best Crime Scene Investigation experts won't dare make a pre-autopsy declaration or such a daunting claim like that, even if they possess prodigious instincts. But Dr Pornthip was unrepentant in her inference, until she kicked a fuss that "someone from Putrajaya" was trying to pressure her from testifying at the inquest, forcing her to "fear for her life."
Afraid for her life from a "little pressure"? The same woman who defied Thai police and military and wore that bounty like a badge of honour? There was no proof that someone "influential" from Putrajaya wants to stop her testimony, or it could have been just a crank call. Who knows?In any case, references to that glib inference are shrugged aside now as she has since observed the second autopsy last November, hence her testimony on Saturday.
But she stands alone against the testimonies of Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar, Dr Peter Vanezis and Dr Shahidan Md Noor -- two independent forensic scientists and one for the government -- who separately testified but collectively concluded that Teoh was likely to have taken his own life based on what they deemed to be compelling evidence.
Dr Vanezis is the acclaimed forensic expert who took part in the probe into the circumstances surrounding Princess Diana's questionable death and provided evidence for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Council hearings.
The question as to why Teoh might want to commit suicide was not stated by Dr Prashant, Dr Vanezis or Dr Shahidan, but clinical psychologists might like to explore anger, shame and guilt of having to spill the beans on his bosses.
That's why Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission counsel Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah went for the jugular, charging Dr Pornthip with "putting her opinion forward in Teoh's case without a complete assessment", to which she quickly retreated to her trusted credo.
In retaliatory indignation, Dr Pornthip posited that she was "not paid" by certain quarters to give her opinion, "unlike Shafee".
That's where she was being disingenuous. In the inquest last year, she was a hired gun brought in by the Selangor government to provide an alternative autopsy in the same manner Shafee was hired to defend the MACC against scurrilous insinuation, long before the inquest was held, that the MACC had murdered Teoh.
Dr Pornthip also made indignant rebuttals to the on-going Thailand Medical Council's investigation into her alleged breach of conduct for allegedly manufacturing evidence for money, which Shafee laid out: 12 top forensic pathologists dispelled Dr Pornthip's conclusion of homicide in the high-profile death of a Bangkok member of parliament and multimillionaire Hangthong Thammawattana.
Dr Pornthip became agitated and defensive to this line of questioning, insisting that it would "confuse with this case" while many of the issues raised were "untrue".
Shafee was not about to let the questioning slide away: in alluding to Hangthong's death in 1999, the Thai government hired Dr Pornthip to conduct a second autopsy to verify police's conclusion of suicide.
Instead, she built a case for homicide, forcing the authorities to charge the dead MP's younger brother with murder. However, when the accused called for the third autopsy that was conducted by the 12 experts, including her teachers, they reached suicide as a cause of death.
Shafee's last indictment prompted Dr Pornthip to be even more defensive: she insisted that the Chicagoan expert, whom she acknowledged as a teacher, did not support the group conclusion, asserting that "my teacher was on my side".
Did Shafee reinforce an already lingering doubt on Dr Pornthip's professionalism and competence? Perhaps. Or it must be noted that the "80 per cent homicide" proclamation she made last year to blithely infer on Teoh's death should now return to haunt her.
Read also:Porntip investigated over breach of discipline
Porntip mengaku disiasat ...