Nora Anne Quoirin inquest: Search area expanded after CCTV footage showed teen could walk unaided despite family’s claim

Nilai police chief Supt Mohd Marzukee Besar arrives at the Seremban Court Complex August 26, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Nilai police chief Supt Mohd Marzukee Besar arrives at the Seremban Court Complex August 26, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

SEREMBAN, Aug 26 — The search-and-rescue operational area for Irish-French teen Nora Anne Quoirin was only expanded significantly at a later stage following revelations gleaned from surveillance camera footage taken at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), a district police chief revealed to the Coroner’s Court today.

Nilai police chief Superintendent Mohd Nor Marzukee Besar, who is testifying as the third witness at the inquest proceedings to determine the cause of Quoirin’s death, said the footage obtained by personnel from the Criminal Investigations Department had shown she could walk unaided despite her physical disabilities.

He said this was contrary to the family’s initial disclosure to investigating officer Inspector Wan Faridah Mustanin that Quoirin could walk no more than 20 feet (six metres) without guided assistance from another person as she could not maintain her balance.

“Based on footage of the family’s arrival at KLIA, if I am not mistaken, they could be seen heading towards a particular location together to wait for someone to arrive (to pick them up).

“In the footage, the missing person could be seen walking normally with her luggage like anyone of her age (15-years-old),” he testified before Coroner Maimoonah Aid.

Recalling the sequence of events, Mohd Nor Marzukee also said then deputy inspector-general of police Datuk Mazlan Mansor had paid an official visit to The Dusun resort on August 11, 2019 to survey the ongoing search operation and meet Quoirin’s family.

Following that, Mohd Nor Marzukee said he, Mazlan, Negri Sembilan police chief Datuk Mohamad Mat Yusop, and several other senior police officers had then gone to the nearby Pantai police station for a briefing, where they were then showed the aforementioned surveillance footage by one Assistant Superintendent Chong.

After viewing the footage repeatedly, Mohd Nor Marzukee said it was then decided that the search area was to be significantly expanded from between four and six sq km previously to a 20 sq km radius towards the nearby Gunung Berembun on the eighth day of Quoirin’s disappearance.

When asked by conducting officer Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad why the search area was not widened further as the operation entered the eighth day, Mohd Nor Marzukee conceded that it was only done later in the day after the footage’s revelation.

In a subsequent query by Quoirin’s family lawyer, S. Sakthyvell, Mohd Nor Marzukee affirmed that he accepted Wan Faridah’s investigation findings on Quoirin’s walking ability without question and did not contact the family for clarification for the entirety of the search-and-rescue operation.

Lawyer Aliff Benjamin Suhaimi who is representing The Dusun, also asked Mohd Nor Marzukee whether Quoirin’s physical disabilities, including her walking capabilities, were made known by the investigating officer on the first day of her disappearance, to which he replied in the affirmative.

Asked if he had taken the initiative to verify the disclosure of Quoirin’s walking ability with the family, Mohd Nor Marzukee maintained that the detail was provided by a trusted investigating officer tasked with recording the family’s statement.

Asked further to provide his own conclusion as to why Quoirin was not discovered during the three days the search zone overlapped with her final location, Mohd Nor Marzukee said there was an assumption that she was still alive and moving, with the possibility that she was no longer at the final destination when rescuers scoured the place.

Quoirin, a 15-year-old with physical and learning difficulties, disappeared from The Dusun resort last year where she was staying with her London-based family, triggering 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 likely died of internal bleeding linked to starvation after spending about a week in the dense rainforest.

The inquest started on August 24 and is expected to go on daily until August 28, before a break and will continue from September 1 to 4.

A total of 64 witnesses will be called to testify in the inquest.

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