Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pornthip 'under pressure' not to testify

A storm is brewing over reports that renowned Thai pathologist Dr  Pornthip Rojanasunand has come under "political pressure" from the Malaysian goverment not to attend the Teoh Beng Hock inquest here where she is dued to testify on April 20.

DAP veteran and Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang said Sunday that this new revelation would plunge public confidence in the Barisan Nasional government and the MACC to a new all-time low.

thai_forensikWriting on his blog, Lim said the overwhelming majority of Malaysians do not believe that Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide by jumping off the 14th floor of the MACC headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16 last year.

As Parliament sitting resumes Monday, Lim called on Minister in the Prime Minister's Deparment Nazri Aziz to make a ministerial statement in the House on  this "scandalous and outrageous" development in the Teoh inquest.

However, Nazri has rubbished Pornthip's claims by calling her "a liar" when contacted by news portal Malaysiakini for his comment.

"As you very well know, today with the Internet and everything, it would be suicidal for the Malaysian government to stop her from testifying," he told the news portal.

The Thai pathologist had claimed in an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini on Sunday that she was "advised" by high-ranking officials from the Thai Justice Ministry not to go to Malaysia for the inquest.

Pornthip is the director-general of the ministry's Central Institute of Forensic Science.

Received "signals" from Malaysian government

She said the Thai Foreign Ministry had received "signals" from the Malaysian government through "informal channels" suggesting that her presence would not be welcomed.

She was cited as saying that "certain Malaysian government circles" wanted to block her presence in court. She was concerned that her involvement in the controversial inquest could impinge on her work in troubled southern Thailand.

According to Pornthip, she was denied entry into Kelantan in January this year to investigate a case related to the killings in southern Thailand which is part of her on-going forensic work.

Asked about this new development, Gobind Singh Deo, the Teoh family counsel, said in a statement Sunday that alternative arrangements would have to be made to enable the Thai pathology expert to testify next week.

If memory holds good, this is not the first time that Pornthip has been pressured by the Malaysian government into pulling out of the inquest.

The Puchong parliamentarian described Pornthips's predicament as "most unfortunate".

Meanwhile, the Selangor government has confirmed that Pornthip is not returning when the inquest resumes next week. It is learnt that the state government is seeking to get her to testify via video-conferencing

Pornthip was requested to help in the Teoh inquest by the Selangor government. She is offering her expertise in a government-to-government arrangement between Bangkok and Shah Alam. — Malaysian Mirror

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