by M. Jegathesan
Malaysian police insisted Monday there was no indication a French-Irish teenager was kidnapped from a jungle resort, as an inquest began into the girl’s death following her disappearance while on holiday.
The body of Nora Quoirin, a 15-year-old with learning difficulties, was discovered unclothed last year after a massive hunt through the rainforest but authorities said there was no sign of foul play.
However, her parents — who believe there was a criminal element to her death, as they say the teen would not have wandered off alone — pushed for an inquest and authorities agreed.
At the start of proceedings on Monday, senior police official Mohamad Mat Yusop described how he inspected the bungalow where the girl and her family were staying and saw nothing suspicious.
“There was no indication the victim was kidnapped,” he told the inquest in the city of Seremban, which is set to hear from some 64 witnesses, including the teen’s parents.
“We did not receive any telephone calls — usually in this kind of case we will get a call to say the victim has been kidnapped and is in the hands of certain people, and they would demand a ransom.
“I believe the missing person actually climbed out of the window,” Mohamad added.
A second witness, resort owner Haanim Ahmed Bamadhaj, said the latch of the window the teen is believed to have climbed out of was broken, and there was no CCTV at the site.
Two windows from the bungalow were shown in court, one of which had a broken latch.
Quoirin’s disappearance from the Dusun Resort south of Kuala Lumpur, where she was staying with her London-based family, triggered a 10-day hunt involving helicopters, sniffer dogs and hundreds of searchers.
Her body was discovered close to the jungle retreat and an autopsy found that she probably starved and died of internal bleeding after spending about a week in the dense rainforest.
– ‘Distraught’ –
Mohamad, the police chief of Negeri Sembilan state, told the court how he immediately ordered a search after being informed on August 4 last year that the girl was missing.
“I assured the father we will use all our resources to find the missing girl.”
The voice of the girl’s mother calling “Nora darling, Nora, Nora, mummy here” was played to the court — a recording that was used during the hunt to try to lure her out of the jungle.
Ahead of the inquest, the teen’s parents Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin described it as “a crucial element in the fight for truth and justice for Nora”.
“We hope that all avenues surrounding Nora’s disappearance will be fully explored and not just the theory which the police has always favoured,” they told AFP in a statement.
Earlier this month, the coroner went to the Dusun Resort and visited the area where the body was found, police said.
The teenager’s Irish mother and French father are not present at the inquest because of the coronavirus pandemic but are following it via a video-conferencing platform.
Other expected witnesses include hikers who found her body and a British forensics expert, who will join by video link.
© Agence France-Presse
Send in your scoop to email@example.com