US couple gave a ‘suspicious’ testimony about model, 18, who fell to her death from their 20th-floor Malaysia apartment – but police didn’t consider it a murder, inquest hears
- Dutch model Ivana Smit, 18, was found dead in Kuala Lumpur last December
- She fell 14 floors from the apartment of an American-Khazak couple
- Investigating officer says their claim Smit may have left home was ‘suspicious’
- Malaysian police said her death was accident or suicide but her family disagree
- Inquest has been opened in Malaysia following pressure from the Smit family
Malaysian police failed to consider that a Dutch model found dead after falling from a 20th floor apartment could have been murdered, despite ‘suspicious’ testimony from the couple who lived there, an inquest heard today.
The naked body of Ivana Smit, 18, was discovered on the sixth floor of an upmarket high rise in Kuala Lumpur on December 7 last year.
She had been partying at the home of American-Khazak couple Alexander Amado Johnson, 45, and Luna Almaz, 31, who claim they had been having sex with the teenager in the hours before her death.
Kuala Lumpur police ruled her death an accident or suicide, but Ms Smit’s family believe she was murdered, prompting an inquest to be opened this year.
Found dead: The naked body of Ivana Smit, 18, was discovered on the sixth floor of an upmarket high rise in Kuala Lumpur, having fallen from an apartment on the 20th floor
Intimate relations: Alexander Amado Johnson, 45, and Luna Almaz, 31, claimed they had assumed Ms Smit had left their apartment – despite her belongings remaining there
Seen together: At 5.22am on December 7, cameras in a Kuala Lumpur club appear to show Johnson carrying Ms Smit in his arms through the hall toward an elevator bank
The senior investigating officer told the inquest he had found it suspicious that the couple said they had assumed Ms Smit had left – despite the teenager’s shoes, bag and mobile phone remaining in their home.
‘I asked him, “Where is your friend [Ms Smit]?” Alex replied that he did not know, but both he and his wife Luna Almaz tried to search [for Ms Smit] in the house, and the deceased was not there,’ Faizal Abdullah of Dang Wangi district police said according to Free Malayisa Today.
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‘He [Johnson] assumed [Ms Smit] had gone out of the house because before that, the deceased said she had an appointment at 10am.’
Abdullah said the couple were questioned about this by police at the local station, but that they had only responded ‘no comment’ and ‘I don’t know’.
The family’s lawyer has slammed the police investigation and accused the investigating officer of being biased towards Johnson and Almaz.
SN Nair, the Smit family lawyer who is a former investigative officer, said the Dang Wangi district police has a ‘preconceived’ idea of what happened to Ms Smit.
Findings: A Dutch autopsy found alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine in her system, as well as significant head bruising and multiple bruises on her arms
Suspicions: Faizal Abdullah, a senior investigating officer (IO) from the Dang Wangi district police headquarters looks on as he waits for court to start at Kuala Lumpur High Court
The Dutch teen model fell from a balcony after partying in the apartment of American citizen Alexander Amado Johnson, 45, and his wife Luna Almaz, 31
Final moments: Police believe Ivana fell from the couple’s balcony at around 10am. Her naked body was not found for another five hours though, at around 3pm
‘There is sufficient and reasonable evidence for the investigating officer to have converted the sudden death [accident or suicide] report to a homicide investigation,’ Nair said according to Free Malaysia Today.
‘The police would then have been able to hold back the couple [Johnson and Almaz] and, if satisfied, only then let them go.
‘They could have even gone further (with the investigations). But now, the couple have flown out of the country.’
Johnson and Almaz are believed to be in the United States, having left Malaysia via Singapore in March.
The inquest will continue until December 21, after which a verdict will be announced on January 22, 2019.
Ms Smit spent the night and morning before her death with Johnson, who works in cryptocurrency, and Almaz.
Almaz and Johnson claim they both had sex with Ms Smit, and that they had been having intimate relations with the Dutch model in the weeks leading up to her death.
Timeline: At 7.30am, Ms Smit, right, sent her boyfriend this selfie of herself with Luna Almaz, left, just a few hours before her death
Kuala Lumpur police ruled her death an accident or suicide, but Ms Smit’s family believe she was murdered, prompting an inquest to be opened earlier this year
Inquest: Ms Smit’s grandparents, left, are accompanied by her uncle Fred Agenjo, centre, as they arrive at the Coroner’s court in Kuala Lumpur when the inquest opened in August
Almaz claims the 18-year-old had told them she was 26.
At 5.22am on December 7, cameras in a Kuala Lumpur club show Johnson carrying Ivana in his arms through a hallway.
At 7.30am, Ms Smit sent her boyfriend a selfie of herself with Luna, telling her she was ‘chilling’.
Police believe that around two hours later, at 10am, Ivana plunged from Johnson’s 20th-story balcony and landed on a six-story roof.
Her body, which was naked, was not found until around 3pm that day.
Two subsequent autopsies, carried out in Malaysia and in the Netherlands, found alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine in her system.
The Dutch autopsy also found significant head bruising and multiple bruises on her arms.
‘Something happened before she fell from the balcony. Maybe she slipped or maybe someone hit her on the head. Bruises like this one are only possible when the heart is still beating,’ Pathologist Frank van de Goot said.
Her father, Marcel Smit said he saw bruises on her neck ‘like fingerprints, as if someone had grabbed her there’ when he identified her body.
He told Dutch media: ‘At about 10am she would have fallen from the balcony at 20 floors high. How is that possible? It is strange that she was not found until 3pm.
‘She is tall, 1.81 meters (5ft 11in), but the barrier is also 1.20 meters (4ft). Only when you bend over, do you fall off. She did not fall and did not jump either.’
Ms Smit was born in Sittard, in the Netherlands but grew up in Malaysia with her grandparents Hendrik Smit, 78, and Susan, 77, before returning briefly to the Netherlands as a teenager.
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