Ivana Smit’s mother says there is “something fishy” in the untimely death of her 18-year-old daughter last year.
A witness who testified today in the inquest into Dutch model Ivana Smit’s death last year has suggested that the couple who hosted her may have had something to do with it.
Smit’s mother, Christina Carolina Geranda Johanna, 54, testified in the Kuala Lumpur Coroner’s Court here that there was “absolutely no way” Smit would have jumped to her death as rumoured, rubbishing claims that she was suicidal.
“My daughter is not like how she is being portrayed. She would have never jumped off the balcony, naked or otherwise.
“There is something up, that’s what I know.
“She was so happy when she returned to Malaysia (after staying with me in Belgium for a while),” she said in a choked voice, with tears rolling down her face.
“I think the Johnson couple are responsible,” she later added, referring to Alex Johnson and Luna Almaz, an American-Kazakh couple who had hosted Smit at their condo on the morning she was found dead.
Christina was the 12th witness to testify in the eight-day inquest into Smit’s death.
Smit’s body was found sprawled in the nude of a sixth-floor balcony on the afternoon of Dec 7 last year at CapSquare Residences, off Jalan Dang Wangi in Kuala Lumpur.
She is believed to have fallen from a 20th-floor condo belonging to the Johnsons just after 1pm.
Police had originally classified the case as sudden death, but it was re-opened after pressure from Smit’s family, who claimed that there were elements of foul play and a cover-up.
The inquest is to determine how Smit had died and whether there is enough evidence to eventually take the case to trial.
The Johnsons have been subpoenaed to testify at the inquest, but have not shown up. They were the last people who were with Smit before she died.
They are currently in the US.
A previous witness told the court that Smit was a promiscuous and sexually adventurous individual, whom he observed groping and making sexual advancements on the Johnsons in public.
Earlier in her testimony, Christina, a Dutch native, testified that she had a good relationship with her 18-year-old daughter – despite being in Europe for most of Smit’s life.
“We Skyped with each other every day. We would usually speak for about 20-30 minutes daily.
“We’d talk about what she was going to cook that day, and normal ‘chit chat’ like that,” she said through a court interpreter.
Smit was raised in Penang by her paternal grandparents shortly before she turned two and for 15 years after that.
She visited her mother, who is now staying in Belgium, for about one year during this time.
“She was a very sweet, spontaneous and cheerful child who loved life. She never brought up any problems to me.
“The only ‘problem’ I know of is that she wanted to go back to Malaysia when she was with me during that one year.
“That (Malaysia) was where she grew up. She was happier there,” Christina explained.
She said Smit was a talented girl who made quite a bit from her modelling career – with 20,000 Euros in her own bank account – and even ran an online clothes-selling business at such a young age.
A seasoned model, Smit was also a finalist for the 2017 Belgium Next Top Model competition and was scheduled to fly back to attend the finals towards the end of last year after arriving in Malaysia in October.
Her boyfriend, Lukas Kramer, had planned to surprise her by flying to Belgium for her birthday, Christina said.
Asked if she knew whether Smit was fighting with her boyfriend or if she was aware of any financial problems Smit had, Christina said there was no reason to believe this.
“She was well off on her own. I was also supporting her financially every month,” she explained, adding Smit was not depressed or suicidal either.
Questioned again by SN Nair, the lawyer holding a watching brief for the Smits’, if Smit had any tendencies to flaunt her body or “walk half naked at home”, Christina said her daughter wouldn’t have even walked out of the bathroom naked.
“She was ashamed of her small breasts. She was shy and uncomfortable about her body.”
The last Christina spoke to her daughter was on the day before she died.
She did not hear from her until the next day. “Her boyfriend messaged me via Facebook Messenger on Dec 7 and asked if I could call him. He said he hadn’t heard from Ivana and was looking for her.
“I started calling Ivana but I couldn’t reach her. She would always answer her phone when I called.
“I don’t know why she didn’t pick up this time,” she said in tears.
Meanwhile, a witness in the inquest has rubbished the testimony of a previous witness who claimed Smit was promiscuous, sexually adventurous and had “issues”.
Latsch Lisette, 31, also known as Ice, the 13th witness to testify in the inquest, today told the Coroner’s Court here that she did not witness any sexual advancements from Smit to an American-Kazakh couple at a bar, as claimed previously.
Ice, who hosted Smit at her residence for a few days last November, also denied Mohd Shareza Sadek Mohamed @ Adam’s claims that she had asked Smit to move in with him because she was annoyed with her “late-night partying”.
“I live in a two bedroom house with a housemate. This was an awkward arrangement that made Ivana uncomfortable (as she didn’t have a bed of her own).
“She wanted to have her own place to stay, so I asked Adam if he would be open to letting her stay at his place as I knew he had a spare bedroom. He was happy to do this.
“He was looking for a personal assistant anyway, and decided to offer Smit the position,” she said, adding she had never asked Smit to move out of her flat.
“Absolutely not. I simply did not have room for her.”
She added that a separate incident that Adam pointed out as evidence Smit had issues was not right.
Adam had said that he saw her crying when he first met her at Ice’s birthday party at a house on Oct 31 last year.
Ice said Smit was not in a good mood that day because of a “tasteless comment” made by the emcee of the party.
“He called Ivana up to the stage for the costume competition and asked the crowd whether they thought she was beautiful, and how much they would pay for her if she was a prostitute.
“That was why she was sad,” she said.
During her testimony, Ice said she never heard or witnessed Smit asking or speaking to her about drugs.
A pathology report showed that drugs were found in Smit’s body, but not how long they had been in her system.
Ice said she could not disregard the possibility that drinks at bars and parties the duo frequented would be laced with drugs.
“But she was always in safe company (with me). Only when she left my company…then I wouldn’t know,” she said when quizzed by SN Nair.
Ice said she also did not hear Smit uttering the word “threesome” to the Johnsons as alleged by Adam, although she said she was present and could have heard it if it happened.
She said she didn’t witness any sexual groping by Ivana, and did not know about any of her Tinder dealings, denying claims that she was suicidal as well, or had issues with her German boyfriend, Lukas Kramer.
Asked if any of the actions alleged by Adam about Smit were true, such as her jumping up and dancing on a bar table top, Ice said she could not recall any of it, although she was there when the events allegedly occurred.
Asked later if she was informed by Adam that he had “taken sides” with the Johnsons, Ice said “not in that context”.
She explained Adam had once asked her to speak to the Johnsons’ lawyer shortly after Smit’s death, despite her refusal.
“A few months later, there was an article published with input from the Johnsons. Adam had pushed for me to speak with the journalist that interviewed them, but I told him no, I did not want to get involved.”
She added she could not say with certainty if there was a link between Adam and the Johnsons, stressing instead that his testimony did not tally with hers.
“As far as I remember (for example), it was Adam who conversed with Alex the most that night, not Adam and Ivana. Luna was just sitting there. They appeared normal. There was no inappropriate touching (as Adam said).”
Nair slammed Adam previously during his examination of him last week for “maligning” his client, saying it was not right for him to allege Smit was engaged in acts of this nature as she could not defend herself.
The Johnsons have since given an account of the events leading to Smit’s death to the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, in which they alleged they slept with Smit regularly, while Luna had slept with Smit hours before she was found dead. – FMT