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'Wounds on 4 bodies consistent'
Published on: Saturday, January 13, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A forensic expert told the Sessions Court here Friday that the wounds on the bodies of four Chinese tourists in the catamaran tragedy off Pulau Mengalum, last year, were consistent with the incident.

Dr Jessie Hiu, 51, told Judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim that the wounds on the bodies of He Runyuan, Xie Luo, Zhang Xiao Kun and Wang Jianyi were consistent with the tragedy and there were no injuries or other significant abnormally.

"Based on the post-mortem reports, the cause of death of He, Xie and Zhang was due to drowning.

"Among the factors that were consistent with the cause of death are their lips and fingers were dark as well as their lungs also dark and containing fluid. Estimated time of their death was within 24 hours before the bodies were recovered.

"For Wang, the cause of death could not be determined due to the state of decomposition of the body.

However, based on the circumstantial evidence, drowning is a likely possibility.

"Wang's body had decomposed and that signs of drowning could not be detected because of the decomposing process. Her face and head were skeletonised whilst the upper limbs were partially skeletonised.

There were patchy areas of post-mortem scavenging on the body and the lower limbs.

The skin cuticle had mostly sloughed-off.

"Some of her teeth showed post mortem dislocation and based on these, Wang had died within a week before the body was found," she said in her witness statement tendered in the court as an exhibit.

Dr Hiu also told the court that to determine the cause of death on Wang, she sent tissue samples to hospital laboratory for diatom examination.

She explained that the diatom had micro-organism, which is found in the waters, and in this case the diatom was found in Wang's kidney, spleen and heart.

According to Dr Hiu, she conducted the post-mortem on the body of He and Xie on Jan 30, 2017 at about 2.38pm and 3.25pm, respectively. Followed by Zhang's body on Feb 1, 2017 at 11am and on Feb 4, 2017 for Wang's body at 5.19pm at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

To a question from Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nartiah F. Mirchelle Sambatan who was assisted by DPP Nurun Nazifah Muhammad Iyen from the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency, Dr Hiu said the wounds on all the bodies were before their death but she could not determine the date and time.

Dr Hiu also stated in her witness statement that she could not confirm any sign of criminal element involved on all the bodies based on her post-mortem. She was testifying in the trial of a boat skipper Sharezza Salian, 26, Leong Vin Jee, 44, the owner of the Golden Sailing boat, Leong's mother Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, who were charged in connection with the tragedy.

They trio face multiple charges, namely overloading the catamaran with tourists which endangered their lives, negligently causing the death of four Chinese tourists, causing hurt to 20 tourists as well as committing offences under the Ports and Harbours Regulations.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Golden Sailing Travel Tour and Car Rental Sdn Bhd premises in Asia City, here, Kg Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty and waters off the Coast of Mengalum Island between 9.15am and 11am on Jan 28, 2017.

Meanwhile, another witness, Alex Lo, 26, told the court that he lodged a police report about Leong's missing boat after being told by another tour guide that the boat did not appear at Pulau Mengalum on Jan 28, 2017.

Lo, a freelance tour guide, said he was accompanied by Leong to lodge the report.

Counsel Benazir Japiril Bandaran, Hamid Ismail and Michelle Usman represented Sharezza and counsel Edward Paul and Elffie Johny for Leong and his mother while counsel Chong Choi Lin is holding a watching brief for the victims.

Trial will continue on Jan 29-Feb 2. - Cynthia D Baga

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