SHAH ALAM: The High Court today allowed an application by an officer handling the inquest into the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim to recall the 24th witness of the proceedings, Kuala Hospital (HKL) forensic expert Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi, who conducted the autopsy on the deceased.
Judge Datuk Indera Ab Karim Ab Rahman made the decision after finding that the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court had erred in its decision to reject the inquest handler’s application to recall the expert witness.
“I find that there has been a mistake by the Coroner in that she took into consideration the points (proceedings) will not end (if the 24th witness was recalled).
“I agree with the application by the handler and that only the expert witness, who is also the 24th witness, be recalled to give his explanation and testimony,” he said.
Ab Karim was of the opinion that that there was no way the inquest would not end as the Coroner was in control of the proceedings, which were not aimed at accusing any individual but to find out the actual cause of Adib’s death.
“Based on what (information) was given, the Coroner shouldn’t have decided that it was enough because there are new things that need to be explained by the 24th witness. The Coroner should consider all the various aspects and not leave out anything, irrespective of whether or not it will have an impact on the decision.
“As such, it is necessary to give the witness a chance to give his explanation. This (decision) is applicable for the 24th witness only,” he said in fixing May 10 for the case mention at the Coroner’s Court.
On April 23, the officer handling the inquest filed an application with the High Court to review Coroner Rofiah Mohamad’s decision in rejecting his application to recall the 23rd and 27th witnesses.
The application to recall the witnesses was due to there being a dispute between two experts regarding the mechanism of the injuries sustained by Adib, which resulted in his death.
Earlier, during the application proceedings, inquest handler Hamdan Hamzah told the court that the Coroner may have erred in her decision by not asking him if he planned to call anymore witnesses after hearing the testimony of the 29th witness, former Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz senior forensic and pathology consultant Prof Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid.
‘The 29th witness is a pathology expert called up by the lawyers for the victim’s family, Housing and Local Government Ministry as well as the Fire and Rescue Department and whose testimony differed from that of the 24th witness.
“The 24th witness was the one who conducted the post-mortem (on Muhammad Adib), not the 29th witness, who testified as if he had carried out the autopsy. How did the 29th witness make the factual findings? This needs to be explained by the 24th witness,” he said.
Hamdan, in his argument, also felt that the Coroner’s Court should gather all the information and hear further explanation by the 24th witness with regard to the testimony given by the 29th witness.
“This is important in view of the fact that several matters not brought up by the 24th witness were commented on by the 29th witness, who went on to say that the findings of the 24th witness were incorrect,” he said.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family’s lawyer, Mohd Kamaruzaman A. Wahab told the court that all witnesses had testified and there was no need for the court to ask the inquest handler if there were any more witnesses to be called.
He said all three expert witnesses called during the proceedings were to help the court to come to a decision.
Lawyer Syazlin Mansor, representing the ministry, department and victim’s family, in her argument said the Coroner did ask the officer handling the inquest the reason for recalling the witness considering he had already given his testimony regarding the findings of the 29th witness.
“If there are new facts, we won’t object (to recalling the 24th witness), but there isn’t any,” she said.
Mohd Kamaruzaman told reporters after the proceedings that they would appeal against the High Court’s decision next week.
Muhammad Adib, a member of the Subang Jaya Fire and Rescue Station EMRS unit was seriously injured in a rioting incident at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, in USJ 25, Subang Jaya on Nov 27 last year. He died at the National Heart Institute on Dec 17. — Bernama