The inquest into the death of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim continued with its 24th witness, forensic expert Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi, recalled to explain further how the fireman sustained fatal injuries while on duty in the early morning of Nov 27 last year.
Hafizam, who conducted the autopsy on the 24-year-old fireman, was recalled to explain the differences between his report and the explanation presented by Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid, a retired pathologist.
Shahrom, who was not present during the autopsy, was called in as an additional expert witness to help determine how the fireman sustained his injuries by lawyer Syazlin Mansor, who is representing the Housing and Local Government Ministry, Fire and Rescue Department and Adib’s family at the inquest.
Shahrom’s theory was that Adib could have been forcefully pulled out from the Fire and Rescue Department’s Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) van he was in, while several persons were kicking the door, resulting in his injuries.
Based on the autopsy and on the information he received from a reconstruction of the event that was done, Hafizam said that Adib’s injuries were most likely caused by a combination of him being hit by the door of the EMRS van and then hitting a hard object at the road shoulder as he fell to the ground.
Hafizam, of Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), told the court he was only aware of Shahrom’s theory when the latter took the stand in court.
“I then told the court that the theory was not consistent with the injuries because of the huge structure of the door, which did not match the size of injury on Adib’s chest.
“I only knew of the suggestion of a specific structure on the door causing injuries to Adib’s chest during Shahrom’s presentation in court (on April 11),” he said.
As a result of the new theory, he said, he and HKL Forensic Medicine Department head Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood were taken to inspect the vehicle and to undertake an experiment with a specific focus on the left door of the van.
“Based on the re-examination of the vehicle and the experiment, Shah and I disagreed that the injuries to Adib’s right chest were caused by a specific structure on the left door of the emergency medical retrieval service (EMRS) van,” he said while rebutting Shahrom’s theory through several presentation slides.
Hafizam told the coroner’s court that a miscalculation of impact force was one of the factors that made the theory posed by Shahrom implausible.
When asked by inquest conducting officer Faten Hadni Khairuddin to explain further, Hafizam said that Sharom neglected to take into account factors such as the weight of the EMRS van while making calculating how much force Adib was subjected to when the door of the van hit him.
“Through his calculation, he (Dr Shahrom) said that the impact force was not enough to cause rib fractures, as he said that an impact of (at least) 3,300 Newtons (336kg) was needed for that,” he said, adding that Shahrom’s calculation found that the impact force of the EMRS van door was just 800 Newtons (81kg).
Hafizam said that he himself did two calculations – adding the weight of the EMRS van – and both showed an impact force of more than 4,000 Newtons.
To Faten who asked why the weight of the van mattered in this case, Hafizam said the force or impact relates to the weight and acceleration of the object in question.
He added that the van, too, needed to be taken into account, not Adib’s weight alone.
He suggested that the court calls in an expert in physics if it wished to affirm this.
“The formula is the right one. It is used in cases of falling from high places.
“It’s a basic formula that is taught in Form 4. (But) it needs to be calculated correctly, as an incorrect calculation can confuse the court,” he said.
Hafizam also disagreed with Shahrom’s theory that Adib had been pulled out of the vehicle.
“His body would have slanted at a 45-degree angle. Even then, we failed to detect any triangular-shaped injury on his chest.
“Also, on both counts, the injuries slanted and extended to the abdomen. This differs from the injuries he actually sustained, which were to the right chest, just above the nipple.
“If the victim had really been stuck between the door and the door frame, the injuries would have extended from the armpit to the abdomen,” he said, adding that the clinical examination, as well as the post-mortem, would have detected far more severe injuries.
Another factor that made Shahrom’s theory implausible was that if Adib was assaulted as he was pulled out of the EMRS van, the area of the injuries would be bigger, Hafizam told the coroner’s court.
He said that he obtained this finding by doing a re-enactment of the incident, using the sequence of events suggested by Shahrom.
“The results of experiments done by the team from the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (HKL) and Dr Shahrom (himself) showed a pattern of injuries that were bigger than the one I found on the victim’s body.
Hafizam said that Shahrom’s explanation that Adib fell backwards instead of forward did not take into detail other injuries on the fire man’s body.
“I don’t agree with Dr Shahrom’s explanation that the scratch on his (Muhammad Adib’s) elbow was due to him falling on his back.
“This is because his knee also was wounded, suggesting that the deceased fell forward and the scratch on his left elbow can have been caused by him falling forward,” he said.
Hafizam also challenged Shahrom’s previous argument regarding an injury Adib sustained on his chest.
He said the size of the injury measured 15x12cm, which was not a match to the length of the door structure said to have hit him, which measured 28cm.
“The structure has an indentation. There is also a rubber knob. There was no triangle shape whatsoever on the door as suggested by Shahrom,” he said.
He also disagreed with Shahrom that a separate triangular bruise just below Adib’s upper arm had been caused by the same door.
“There was no triangle shape on this structure. As I said, it was an indentation structure.
“How could two injuries (one on the chest, one on the upper arm) with different patterns have come from the same structure?”
Hafizam said the scene had been reconstructed twice, neither of which was a match to Shahrom’s interpretation of the post-mortem report.
Judge Rofiah Mohamad sits as coroner for the inquest, held at the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
The inquest continues on Tuesday, May 14.