Murder accused Jason Rohde’s defence attorney Advocate Graham van der Spuy’s attempt to unnerve state pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan led to heated exchanges in the Cape Town High Court on Monday.
After six weeks of trial Coetzee-Khan‚ the state’s second witness‚ was again subjected to attempts by Van der Spuy to discredit his expert testimony which included calling him a liar.
Referring to a discrepancy between Coetzee-Khan’s handwritten notes from the post-mortem examination and his final report van der Spuy said he was “not telling the truth” about the findings in his examination.
Rohde is on trial for the murder of his wife Susan. The state claims she was strangled and her suicide was staged while the defence has argued that she was depressed and committed suicide. Science is being used to bolster both parties’ claims.
Van der Spuy also said that during a telephone conversation with defence pathology expert Dr Reginald Perumal‚ Coetzee-Khan said he found that Susan had a broken hyoid bone. But Coetzee-Khan denied this.
Coetzee-Khan previously testified that Perumal was misleading the court if he did not find that Susan had been manually strangled.
But when Van der Spuy mentioned Perumal’s post-mortem findings on Monday‚ Coetzee-Khan rolled his eyes. This was picked up by the seasoned advocate.
“Why did you just roll your eyes when I mentioned Dr Perumal? Did you infer something by that?” asked Van der Spuy.
Coetzee-Khan said that he was not rolling his eyes but that he was trying to concentrate.
Van der Spuy replied: “Don’t tell an untruth. When I mentioned Dr Perumal you rolled your eyes intentionally.”