November 28, 2019 / 7:55 AM / 16 days ago

Malaysia reopens probe into death of Dutch model for possible murder

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities on Wednesday said they would reopen investigations into the death of a Dutch model nearly two years ago, after a local court ruled that there was reason to believe she may have been killed.

In December 2017, Ivana Smit, 18, was found dead on the balcony of a condominium on the sixth floor of a high-rise residential complex in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

She was believed to have fallen to her death from a 20th-floor unit occupied by an American-Khazakhstani couple with whom she had spent the night.

A court inquest concluded in March that Smit’s death was a “misadventure,” and that no one was responsible for her death despite evidence of bruises and trauma on her body and DNA traces of the American under her fingernails, according to media reports.

However, a high court last week granted an application by Smit’s family to set aside the inquest’s findings, ruling that her death was possibly caused by someone else, said police criminal investigation department chief Huzir Mohamed.

“The court ordered the attorney general to instruct the police to reinvestigate the cause of death, and for the case to be reclassified under Section 302 (of the Penal Code),” Huzir said at a press conference broadcast on the police’s official Facebook page, referring to Malaysia’s laws regarding murder.

Huzir said a team will be formed to reinvestigate the case pending instructions from the attorney general, after which they will record witness statements.

He did not specify who or how many witnesses the police would question.

It is not known whether the couple who hosted her is still in Malaysia.

Police originally had classified the case as “sudden death.”

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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