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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Police carried proper probe into Dutch model's death - court filing

 


The inspector-general of police (IGP) and three others asserted that the police have conducted a proper investigation into the 2017 death of Dutch model Ivana Esther Robert Smit.

The IGP (who is not named), investigating officer Faizal Abdullah, the home minister (who is not named), and the government claimed this in their court filing in response to a lawsuit by the deceased’s family.

Her mother Christina Carolina Gerarda Johanna Verstappen filed the suit against the four defendants in November last year, claiming that the police had been negligent in investigating the case.

Smit’s (above) nude body was discovered sprawled on the sixth-floor condo of CapSquare Residence in Kuala Lumpur, 14 floors below Alexander William Johnson and Lunara Almazkyzy’s 20th-floor condo unit, on Dec 7, 2017. She was 18. 

In December that same year, the police had classified the case as sudden death.

On March 8 2019, the Kuala Lumpur Coroner’s Court had ruled her death as a misadventure

However in November 2019, the Kuala Lumpur High Court overturned the coroner’s finding, ruling that there was an insufficient investigation done on the possibility of death by homicide, but it may have been caused by "persons known or unknown" to the victim. 

Following the High Court ruling, the police had announced that a new task force would be formed to reopen the investigation into the case. 

In the statement of defence filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Jan 29, the four defendants alleged that the police have taken all appropriate steps in investigating the incident at the condo on Dec 7, 2017.

They asserted that the police had checked the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) at the condo, interviewed potential witnesses there, questioned and temporarily detained the couple at the unit, and seized evidence for further examination.

The court filing named the couple in question as cryptocurrency trader Alexander William Johnson and Lunara Almazkyzy. After being temporarily detained by police, the duo left Malaysia in early 2018.

The couple since then have given interviews to international media, where while admitting to having a form of "threesome" sexual relations with Smit prior to the incident, had denied being responsible for her death. 

The four defendants in the suit claimed that forensic checks on the handphones of Johnson and Almazkyzy did not find anything suspicious or helpful to the investigation.

Dutch model Ivana Esther Robert Smit.

They also asserted that following an autopsy on Dec 8, 2017, which they claimed resulted in the finding that Smit’s cause of death was “chest and abdominopelvic injuries” and “consistent with fall from height”, a “sudden death report” (SDR) file was opened the next day.

“The first defendant (IGP), as well as officers of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) including the second defendant (Faizal), have at all times taken appropriate and reasonable steps in carrying out investigation on the death of the deceased.

“The first defendant, second defendant as well as the officers of PDRM have never had malicious intent or intentionally and/or negligent in taking action,” the four defendants asserted through the court filing.

“Every reasonable and appropriate action and efforts have been taken, including applying for official assistance from Interpol (International Criminal Police Organisation) to track down Lunara Almazkyzy and Alexander William Johnson.

“The defendants are still carrying out the investigation as ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court (in November 2019),” the four defendants alleged.

They also contended that the previous inquest proceedings and the coroner’s findings are not binding on the present High Court presiding over the lawsuit relating to Smit’s death.

“This honourable court needs to make its own finding of fact to determine whether the plaintiff (Smith’s mother) succeeds in proving her claim, based on the testimonies submitted by parties in this claim,” they said.

Through the lawsuit, Smit’s family is seeking general, aggravated, and exemplary damages over negligence, gross negligence, misfeasance and/or nonfeasance.

They seek a declaration that the defendants had failed to carry out their duties per the High Court ruling on Nov 22, 2019, which overturned the ruling of misadventure.

The family is seeking a mandamus order for the IGP, home minister and/or the government to issue a warrant of arrest and extradite Johnson and Almazkyzy to Malaysia for further questioning and possible prosecution.

The family is also seeking a mandamus order to compel the IGP to remove Faizal from the current task force and to reconstitute a new task force for the reopened probe into Smit’s death. - Mkini

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