The Kuala Lumpur High Court today struck out a suit by the mother of the late Dutch model Ivana Esther Robert Smit against the police, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Malaysian government for alleged breach of statutory duties and negligence in the investigation to determine the cause of her daughter’s death.
Lawyer Datuk SN Nair, representing Ivana’s mother Christina Carolina Gerarda Johanna Verstappen told reporters that Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir struck out his client’s suit during the case management which was held via online proceedings.
“The judge, without any application by the defendants, struck out the plaintiff’s claim, stating that the statement of claim did not comply with Order 18, Rule 7 of Rules of Court 2012. We will file an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision today,” the lawyer said.
Verstappen, 57, as the plaintiff filed the suit on November 20 last year, naming the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Dang Wangi police district investigating officer ASP Faizal Abdullah, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Malaysian government as defendants.
In her statement of claim, Verstappen said her 18-year-old daughter was found dead on the sixth floor of CapSquare Residence in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, 2017, after falling from the 20th floor of the condominium unit owned by American couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almazkyzy.
Verstappen said on or about the evening of December 7, 2017, she was informed about the death of her daughter and immediately flew to Kuala Lumpur from the Netherlands to verify and inquire into the same.
She said that upon arrival in Malaysia on December 9, 2017, she was asked by the defendants to identify the deceased at the morgue at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), and she was also then informed by the defendants and one Sergeant Haliza (the first investigating officer) that her daughter’s nude body was found on the balcony of the sixth-floor condo and her daughter had committed suicide.
She added that the defendants had opened a Sudden Death Report (SDR) on December 7, 2017 and had proceeded to conclude the case as death caused by natural cause or suicide.
Verstappen said she could not accept the aforesaid conclusion on her daughter’s death by the defendants and Sergeant Haliza as she found it highly unbelievable, incredible and incredulous, and was also aghast and appalled that the defendants had only opened an SDR.
Therefore, she contended that the action or omissions by the defendants were in clear breach of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and best practices in police investigations.
She further said that the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) then rightly and duly ordered an inquest to be held to determine the cause of her daughter’s death and on March 8, 2019, Coroner Mahyon Talib delivered her verdict as “misadventure”.
Not satisfied with the coroner’s verdict, Verstappen appealed to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and on November 22, 2019, High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah set aside the coroner’s verdict and replaced it with a verdict of ‘Death by person or persons unknown” and ordered the Attorney-General to direct the Royal Malaysia Police to begin further investigations.
She claimed that the defendants failed or neglected to carry out their statutory duties, deliberately or otherwise, and acted in breach of their statutory duties owed to the deceased and to her.
Verstappen contended that the police had committed negligence when they failed to cordon the crime scene or conduct proper investigation against Johnson and Almazkyzy and failed to detain, extradite and secure the duo’s attendance during the inquest as the key witnesses.