Police will reopen their investigation into the death of Ivana Esther Robert Smit, a Dutch model who fell from a condominium here in 2017.
This follows the High Court’s decision today to set aside Smit’s inquest decision of her death as the result of ‘misadventure’, to death by person or persons known or unknown.
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah also directed the Attorney General’s Chambers to order the police to investigate the cause of her death.
He said the inquest decision, made by coroner Mahyon Talib, was inconsistent with her findings, particularly involving witness Dutch pathologist Dr Frank Van de Goot.
“The coroner, when delivering her decision, agreed on the findings by the Dutch pathologist that there was a possible quarrel between Smit and her hosts Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, prior to her death.
“Despite this fact, she returned a verdict of ‘misadventure’,” he said.
Smit’s family says the American couple should be ordered to return in the interest of justice.
The family’s spokesman Fred Agenjo said they were “immensely” happy with today’s decision but felt that the lack of testimony from Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz during the inquest into her death had left many questions unanswered.
“The family is, of course, strengthened by this verdict,” Agenjo, who is Smit’s uncle, was quoted as saying.
“It’s been a tough two years and we are not there yet, but this is an excellent first step. We hope this will be the first step to getting the Johnsons subpoenaed and ultimately to justice.
“We hope they will realise the family will not rest until justice has been done for Ivana.”
Smit, 18, was found dead on Dec 7, 2017. Her naked body was found on a sixth-floor balcony at about 10am. She fell from the couple’s condominium unit at CapSquare Residences at Jalan Dang Wangi.
Smit, who was at the home of Johnson and Almaz, was allegedly partying with the couple before she plunged to her death.
Neither Johnson nor Almaz attended the subsequent inquest although they maintained their innocence in an interview with a British tabloid.
The police initially classified the case as sudden death, but it was reopened following the family’s claims of foul play.
On March 8, the Coroner Court ruled the death a ‘misadventure’ as there was no clear evidence of any criminal element, nor involvement of any individual in the case.
In her judgment, Mahyon said that there was a scuffle between the victim, Johnson and Almaz as there were blunt force trauma injuries, shattered glass, and Johnson’s DNA found near the deceased.
However, she said the court could not ascertain what actually happened between them.
Meanwhile, counsel Sankara Nair, who represented Smit’s family, said that they were pleased with the court’s decision.
“I hope the police will investigate Smit’s death under homicide,” he said.
A representative of the Dutch police, Gerald van Heerwaarde, who also presented during the proceedings, said that they will assist their Malaysian counterparts on the investigation.
Smit moved to Malaysia when she was three and lived in Penang for most of her life.
Her grandfather Hendrik, with whom she stayed in Penang, also welcomed the court decision, voicing hope for a detailed investigation by the police.