he investigation into the death of Ivana Smit, a 19-year-old Dutch model whose naked body was discovered on the balcony of a condominium in Kuala Lumpur in December 2017, will be examined once more after the Malaysian High Court ruled a lawsuit by Smit’s parents, alleging misconduct and negligence by the police and government, can move forward.
The lurid details surrounding Smit’s case gripped the Malaysian and international press for quite some time. On the night of her death, Smit had been in the 20th-story condominium of 40-year-old American Alex Johnson and his 31-year-old wife Luna Almazkyzy. The expat couple admitted to the media that they had sexual relations with Smit that night and there were reports they had all consumed large quantities of drugs and alcohol but the couple denied they played any role in Smit’s death. The initial police investigation ruled there had been no foul play and the couple has since left Malaysia.
But after pressure from Smit’s family, police agreed to an inquest into their daughter’s cause of death. In March 2019, a coroner’s report concluded that there was evidence of a struggle between Smit and the couple, including trauma to the back of her head, and that she may have already been dead before her body’s 14-story fall. But, despite that, the coroner ruled the cause of death as “misadventure”.
Later in 2019, the High Court accepted a legal challenge by Smit’s family to overturn the coroner’s decision, ruling that “persons known or unknown” were involved in the model’s death and ordering a new investigation.
In November 2020, Smit’s parents filed a suit against Dang Wangi investigating officer ASP Faizal Abdullah, the Inspector-General of Police, the Home Minister and the Malaysian government for alleged breach of statutory duties and negligence in the investigation into the cause of their daughter’s death. Key among their claims is the police’s failure to detain, extradite and secure Johnson and Almazkyzy for the inquest.
The police and government attempted to block the suit but yesterday the High Court ruled that the lawsuit raised serious questions that need to be argued out in trial.
“This is not a plain and obvious case to be struck out. The defendants’ claim that they have immunity under the Police Act 1967 is also a serious question of law which should go into a trial,” Judicial Commissioner Roz Mawar Rozain said.
The next step is case management for the trial, which the court has scheduled for Dec. 14.
Follow our previous coverage of the case: