Cause of doctor’s death cannot be determined

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PETALING JAYA: A coroner’s court in Alor Setar has delivered an open verdict in the death of a doctor who died under mysterious circumstances in Langkawi some 10 years ago.

Sessions Court judge Azman Abu Hassan, who presided over the inquest, said he could not determine whether Dr Sebastian Joseph died due to suicide, natural causes or foul play by a third party.

Azman’s findings were delivered by another Sessions Court judge Murtazadi Amran as the former has been transferred to Ipoh.

Lawyer M Visvanathan, who represented Sebastian’s family, said the outcome of the ruling meant no one could be held responsible for the death and no further investigation was needed.

“There could be no prosecution but the inquest result will bolster the family’s suit for negligence against the authorities,” he told FMT.

A conducting officer from the Attorney-General’s Chambers took the position that Sebastian died of natural causes.

However, Visvanathan said the investigation officer in the case did not conduct a thorough probe but merely handed over the body to the Langkawi hospital.

“There was no actual post-mortem, except a few incisions on the body during the autopsy,” he said.

The lawyer had submitted that a medical doctor who conducted the post-mortem had merely stated that the cause of death was “un-ascertained”.

Sebastian, 30, was found dead in his government quarters in Padang Matsirat on Nov 17, 2010.

The medical officer at the Kuah government clinic in Langkawi was said to be in a kneeling position with his hands clenched.

In 2015, the family successfully made an application to conduct a second post-mortem to exhume the body at the Christian cemetery in Shah Alam in the hope that the remains would be sufficient to determine the cause of death and to hold an inquest.

The family brought in Australian pathologist Dr Richard Byron Collins and local expert Prof Dr Kasinathan Nadesan, to conduct the autopsy at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.


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