Jason Rohde's lawyer attacks credibility of state pathologist

State expert witness Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan takes the stand in the murder trial of Jason Rohde.
State expert witness Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan takes the stand in the murder trial of Jason Rohde.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Graham van der Spuy‚ advocate for murder accused Jason Rohde‚ has done all he can to to rip a major hole through the credibility of state pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan‚ accusing him of making deliberate errors‚ jumping to conclusions that warped his analysis and‚ in effect‚ obstructing justice.

“There is something fishy going on‚” he told Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

At the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday morning‚ he accused Coetzee-Khan of “descending into an arena where he got dust in his eyes and made the worst mistake possible” by coming to a premature conclusion that would colour everything he analysed thereafter‚ including the postmortem.

Van der Spuy pronounced‚ during these heads of the defence’s argument on Wednesday‚ that “through a cacophony of incorrect assumptions”‚ he had declared right at the outset that Susan was assaulted and murdered‚ that her husband was a suspect‚ and that foul play had occurred.

“He bumbled head-first into the matter and it is outrageous‚”  Van der Spuy said.

His evidence and report in that regard were not worth the paper they were written on
Graham Van der Spuy

Coetzee-Khan was accused of interfering in processes beyond his ambit when he said at the crime scene investigation that Rohde should immediately be examined for injuries which would form part of the record‚ and that he should have his passport confiscated lest he become a flight risk.

“This was outside the ambit of his duties. So involved was he with the potential prosecution of this case that he could not see the wood for the trees‚”  Van der Spuy said.

“What we have is a shockingly poor incident scene inspection. We have fundamentally incorrect conclusions.

"His evidence and report in that regard were not worth the paper they were written on. It was forensic nonsense.”

After cutting holes in the crime scene investigation report‚ Van der Spuy moved swiftly to the postmortem. This‚ he said‚ was incompetently performed‚ and utterly flawed.

He questioned why the state pathologist had claimed to take his own notes during the postmortem  (in itself “unusual” as a foot-pedalled dictaphone or scribe is normally used) but that those notes had then vanished.

He also asked why it took nine months to squeeze the postmortem report out of the state.

“One can’t but think that something fishy is going on‚” he said.

He questioned why no X-rays were performed on Susan Rohde’s body‚ and why no histology was included in the report when it could have indicated either way if Susan had a rope placed around her neck by someone else when she was already deceased‚ or if she had placed it around her own neck before committing suicide.

The case continues. - TimesLIVE

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