Navy cadet murder: Doctor testifies on 90 burn marks

Naval cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain was allegedly murdered at a hostel of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia in 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR: A forensic expert told the High Court here today that an autopsy on naval cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain did not show that the continuity of major burns suffered by the victim had solely caused his death.

Dr Rohayu Shahar Adnan, 49, head of Sungai Buloh Hospital’s forensic department said the conclusion given by Dr Salmah Arshad, a forensic expert from Serdang Hospital, was not supported by the microscopic examination done by Salmah.

“In my opinion, the conclusion made by the pathologist who performed the post-mortem did not show the continuity that the major burns suffered by the victim was 100% the cause of death.

“If you see the witness’ statement, Dr Salmah used complicated sentences that the burns were hypovolemic shock (lack of fluid in the body), bacterial infections, damage to vital organs and electrolyte imbalance,” she said when asked by lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad at the defence trial of 18 National Defence University students accused of killing Zulfarhan.

In the previous proceedings, Dr Salmah told the court that the cause of death of Zulfarhan was a combination of hypervolemia, heart and kidney complications and that the post mortem found swelling of the heart and kidney failure.

Amer Hamzah asked Dr Rohayu whether the 90 scald injuries on Zulfarhan was from a steam iron being pressed on him 90 times.

Dr Rohayu: To answer the question, there are three answers, firstly, it is correct that the injuries were imposed 90 times and confirmed burn marks.

Amer Hamzah: How to make sure the wounds are burn injuries?

Dr Rohayu: In this case I cannot be sure.

Amer Hamzah: What about the second and third answer (regarding 90 burn wounds)?

Dr Rohayu: For the second answer, Dr Salmah said there were overlapping wounds, so there is a possibility of more than 90 times because of the overlapping injuries while the third answer is that the probability of the injury is less than 90 times because there are some injuries based on non-burn injuries pattern.

On July 31, last year, the High Court ordered 18 students to enter their defence on charges of murder, conspiracy to murder, and injuring Zulfarhan.

Five accused, Muhammad Akmal Zuhairi Azmal, Muhammad Azamuddin Mad Sofi, Muhammad Najib Mohd Razi, Muhammad Afif Najmudin Azahat and Mohamad Shobirin Sabri face charges of murder, while Abdoul Hakeem Mohd Ali was charged with abetting the murder.

The offence was allegedly committed at a university hostel between 4.45am and 5.45am on May 22, 2017.

The six are also accused with 12 others of voluntarily causing hurt to Zulfarhan to extort a confession from him for a laptop theft.

The others are Mohd Hafiz Fauzan Ismail, Mohamad Lukhmanul Hakim Mohd Zain, Ahmad Shafwan Berdal, Muhammad Amirul Asraff Mala, Luqman Hakim Shamsuri, Muhammad Sufi Mohd Mustapha, Noriznan Izzairi Noor Azhar, Muhamad Ashraf Abdullah, Muhammad Danial Firdaus Azmir, Muhammad Hasif, Muhammad Adib Iman and Mohamad Syazwan.

They were charged with intentionally causing hurt to the victim, to obtain a confession that he had stolen a laptop computer.

The trial continues tomorrow before Justice Azman Abdullah.