Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wanted: Pornthip's head

Thai pathologist Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan has promised to bring Teoh Beng Hock's case to justice by requesting an exhumation of the dead political aide's body for a second post-mortem, making her a well-known legendary figure across this country.

She fears no evil, and has over the past three decades brought justice to countless unjustifiably killed victims.

That explains why a million-baht tag has been placed on her head!

Guang Ming Daily travelled all the way to Thailand to talk to her. Other than seeing her dissect dead bodies in her white overall, we also saw her tender side as a Thai woman, a mother, and a wife.

Teoh Beng Hock's mysterious death has yet to be solved. Under the recommendation of their lawyer, Teoh's family agreed to invite internationally acclaimed pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunan to conduct a second post-mortem with the hope of unearthing any hidden truth.

Thanks to the intervention by Pornthip to conduct a second post-mortem on a wealthy Thai MP back in 1999, earlier police reports pointing at him committing suicide was overturned, resulting in a drastic twist in the development of the case.

Heads-on with the authorities

Pornthip fears no evil and would even go against the will of the authorities just to bring out the truth.

She has gained tremendous popularity since, but that has also made her a target of some people. Her life has been constantly under intimidation.

Pornthip said after she overturned the police report that the wealthy MP had committed suicide, she had received numerous unidentified calls threatening her life.

She was warned to stay clear of the case, or "a post-mortem will be conducted ON YOU tomorrow!"

That was only a beginning. Pornthip said the analyses she did on the six pieces of earplugs found at the site of an explosion in southern Thailand three years ago allowed the police to detain two suspects. One of the suspects was subsequently sentenced to death while the hearing of the other is still being conducted.

Since then, she has been told by the police that her head was wanted by certain people in southern Thailand.

"They offered at least one million baht (approximately RM100,000) for my head, but I'm not afraid of it!

"I'm well aware that my head fetches a good price, but I won't chicken out, but will instead be more determined to get the truth out of the dark."

A good price on the head of "Doctor of Death"

Popularly known as the "Doctor of Death," Pornthip is someone who would never give up things easily. That said, she is well aware of the fact that she is constantly walking on a tightrope, and does not know when she will miss and fall to her death.

Militants, underground outfits, even hostile politicians have been offering rewards to get her wiped out from the face of the earth.

She often leads her team to the sites, especially of cases involving explosions, and believes DNA technology could be employed in the police force to assist in the identification of leaders of the militants in the troubled Deep South.

Pornthip said she had no regret of any sort for the sake of the safety of majority of Thai people.

Revisiting Malaysia this month

On Teoh Beng Hock's case, Pornthip said the family's lawyer Gorbind Singh had contacted her, but whether she would come to Malaysia would depend on whether the court would approve the application by Teoh's family.

She admitted that it was inconvenient at this juncture for her to divulge any detail of her recent court statements in Kuala Lumpur, as the case is still on trial.

However, she said she would go to KL for a forensic conference in mid-November.

On Teoh's mysterious death, Pornthip said boldly that it shared a lot of similarities with many of the suspense cases she had handled earlier on.

She cited an example in which a woman was found hanging herself at home in Bangkok not too long ago. According to post-mortem reports, the woman hanged herself to death, but after two weeks, the victim's son and other relatives suspected foul play and requested Pornthip to conduct a second post-mortem to find out the truth behind her death.

After reading the post-mortem reports, Pornthip found some irregularities that did not match scientific evidences.

Generally, those hanging themselves to death will present injuries on the upper part of their throats, but this female victim had obvious injuries further down!

Moreover, Pornthip also found other injuries around the victim's body, including bruises on her arms.

As a result, she felt it necessary to revisit the site. Besides, the victim was said to have hanged herself with a certain type of cloth that did not match the actual situation.

Consequently, Pornthip got the victim's husband to explain these irregularities, but her husband was unable to provide proper answers to her questions.

Pornthip said collecting evidences was of paramount importance in solving a case.

Solving a mysterious death

The next example that Pornthip cited, was the case in which she conducted a second post-mortem on a victim for the first time.

The victim was a Thai man who died under police custody.

According to post-mortem reports presented by the police, the victim died at about 11.00 p.m. while under police custody.

The family of the victim sought Pornthip's assistance three months later, and wanted her to exhume the victim's body for a second post-mortem, during which four apparent injuries and bullet shells were found on the body.

Besides, there was undigested food in his gastrointestinal tract.

Pornthip said the victim took his meal at 4 p.m., and this was contradicting the police's claim that he died at 11 p.m.

Six months later, the Thai Legal Association issued a statement that the victim's blood was found in the bush.

The victim had apparently been killed by someone else before his body was moved to another location.

Unfortunately, the case was put to an abrupt stop without any solution, as a member of the victim's family met his doom during the process of finding the truth; and for their own safety, the family agreed to accept a 3-million baht "reconciliation" offer from the police.

Pornthip said helplessly, "Thailand lacks the say when it comes to human rights protection."

Every dead body tells a story! Pornthip allows the speechless evidences to talk on their own! Watch out for Part Two of the mind-boggling interview on Monday.

(Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Guang Ming Daily)

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