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Court: Dutch model's death not due to misadventure

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has overturned a coroner’s ruling that the death of Dutch model Ivana Esther Robert Smit was due to misadventure.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah reached the verdict after allowing an application by Smit’s family to review a coroner’s ruling in March this year.

In his judgment today, Justice Sequerah said that under the circumstances, there was insufficient investigation done on the possibility of death by homicide but it may have been caused by "persons known or unknown" to the victim. 

"The coroner, in her decision had agreed with the findings of Dutch pathologist, Dr Frank Van Der Goot, that Smit (photo) and her hosts, couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, might have engaged in a struggle prior to the death.

"Despite the court agreeing with the expert witness, the coroner returned a verdict of misadventure. This was inconsistent with the coroner's findings with respect to Dr Frank’s evidence,” the judge said.

He then set aside the coroner’s decision and directed the Attorney-General’s Chambers to instruct the police to probe the cause of the death of the 19-year-old model.

Throughout the inquest, it was revealed that Smit’s body had signs of an arm grip, trauma at the back of the head and DNA of Johnson under her nails.

It was also disclosed that based on testimonies of witnesses, including the investigating officer, the court found that the deceased died due to a fall from a high place.

Smit, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, was found sprawled in the nude on the sixth-floor condo of CapSquare Residence in Kuala Lumpur, 14 floors below Johnson and Almaz’s 20th-floor condo, on Dec 7, 2017.

Coroner Mahyon Talib, in her judgment earlier this year, had said the court found that no one was liable for the model’s death.

The couple claimed to have had sex with Smit before her death but maintained their innocence, saying the model died due to her own "youthful recklessness” but they did not testify during the inquest.

Smit’s family was represented by lawyer Sankara Nair, while deputy public prosecutor Kirubin Subramaniam appeared for the prosecution.

Speaking to reporters after the proceedings, Sankara said the family was pleased with the court’s decision.

"I hope the police will investigate Smit’s death as a homicide, ” he added.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Dutch police, Gerald van Heerwaarde, said the decision would be relayed to the headquarters.

"We will see how we can assist the Malaysian police in their investigations, ” he said. - Bernama

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