Nóra Quoirin’s parents demand justice after Malaysian authorities close case

This article has been updated to include the call by two French deputies for the case to be reopened.

Nóra Quoirin with her mother Meabh.

The parents of Franco-Irish teenager Nóra Quoirin, who disappeared from a holiday resort in Malaysia and was found dead in the jungle ten days later, are demanding answers and high-level intervention after the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) made a decision to classify Nóra’s case as requiring “no further action”.

They said that the AGC’s decision “prevents justice being done” and continue to call for an inquest into their daughter’s death.

In a statement made via the Lucie Blackman Trust, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin said: “We have today learned that the AGC of Malaysia has classified Nóra’s case as ‘no further action’.

“This essentially means that, at this time, there will be no inquest. We are shocked by this decision, not least because it is based on a preliminary report from the coroner’s office.”

The Quoirins said that, to date, they have only received a short explanation from the pathologists who conducted the postmortem in Malaysia, which confirmed the cause of death as gastrointestinal bleeding and an ulcer, likely brought on by starvation and/or stress.

“We must emphasise, however, that this is only a brief extract of what will be the full postmortem report, which is as yet still unavailable.

“It is critical that we receive this report. It may reveal other significant details that contributed to Nóra’s death, such as why a severe ulcer was triggered so quickly in her body. It is moreover utterly unacceptable that we have not received a single update from Malaysia since Nóra’s death.”

The Quoirins added: “As we have stressed from the beginning of this case, it is crucial to understand how Nóra came to be found where she was.”

Nóra’s body was found on August 13 about two kilometres from the Dusun resort by a group of hikers who had volunteered their help. It was the 10th day of a massive search for the 15-year-old.

Nóra was a vulnerable child, with significant physical and mental challenges, her parents said. “We strongly refute any conclusion that Nóra was alone for the entire duration of her disappearance.”

The Quoirins have repeatedly asked the police to provide answers to their questions and say they have been repeatedly ignored.

“This stands in stark contrast with the promise of transparency that we received from the deputy prime minister and other prominent officials whom we met in Malaysia,” they said in today’s statement.

“We believe it is a democratic human right to seek the truth. We have witnessed how our most vulnerable citizens in this world are all too often ignored and we are now facing considerable prejudice in our search for answers.”

The Quoirins said they could not believe or understand why “any modern economy would label such a harrowing and mysterious case NFA without full process”.

They said that the Malaysian authorities’ “total refusal” to communicate with them was both “insulting and unfathomable”.

They added that their governments in France and Ireland supported their demands for justice. “We therefore now appeal directly to the highest levels of Malaysian government as well as the attorney-general’s office to assist our quest for the truth.”

Local police announced at a press conference on Wednesday (January 8) that the NFA decision had been taken, and the news was reported by Malaysia’s state news agency, Bernama, and several local news outlets, but neither the Quoirins nor their lawyer in Malaysia, Sankara N. Nair, have been officially informed.

Changing Times has been told by a source within the attorney-general’s chambers that the NFA instruction was given by the head of the chambers’ prosecution division, Manoj Kurup.

‘Myriad questions remain’

Sankara Nair is shocked by the AGC’s decision and says it is “unfair”.

Myriad questions remain to be answered about how Nóra died, Nair says, and “an abduction and wilful detention cannot be ruled out”.

On December 30, Nair wrote to the attorney-general’s chambers asking for an inquest to be ordered into Nóra’s death, “so that justice can and will be done”. He received an acknowledgment of his letter on December 31, but has not yet received any further response.

Nair said: “It will be a grave injustice to the Quoirin family if the attorney-general’s chambers were to predicate their decision not to order an inquest solely on the basis of the initial postmortem report.”

Not only have the final results of the postmortem carried out in Malaysia, including toxicology reports, not yet been released, the Quoirins are also still awaiting the results of a second postmortem, carried out in London.

Nóra’s parents have said they believe there was a criminal element in the disappearance and death of their daughter.

Nair says he suspects that Nóra was abducted.

He points out that, even when the full postmortem report is released, it will only be able to give a reasonable assessment of the cause of Nóra’s death. If she had been abducted, the postmortem would not show that.

“If the family suspects foul play then it is the duty of the attorney-general to call for an inquest,” he said.

Application for inquest

In his application for an inquest, Nair stated that the Quoirins wanted to thank the Royal Malaysian Police for their efforts in searching for and locating Nóra.

He added that he was requesting an inquest for three main reasons. The postmortem results, he said, did not explain how Nóra, who has learning disabilities, “was found naked at the scene”.

He stated: “Many questions remain unsolved and unanswered. We insist that there are criminal elements involved in the death of Ms Nora Anne Quorin.”

He also said that he had received no reply from the Royal Malaysian Police to questions posed by the Quoirins in a letter dated August 23rd and several reminders.

Nair requested that hearing dates for an inquest be fixed “as early as possible”.

Sebastien Quoirin told the Irish broadcaster RTE in an exclusive interview that there was “one chance in a billion” that Nóra got lost by herself.

Nóra wouldn’t even go out of the door of her home alone, he said. To think that she might get up in the middle of the night and go out of the bungalow into the jungle, naked and barefoot, in total darkness – bearing in mind that the terrain was extremely steep and dangerous – made absolutely no sense, he said. “We think it is absurd to think about this possibility.”

Meabh Quoirin said it was impossible to imagine that Nóra could have got any distance at all. She never even walked as far as her neighbour’s front door by herself.

Nair says that, to avoid all continuing ambiguities, it is only logical that the police provide answers to the many valid questions that have been raised by the family and were put to them months ago.

“Transparency is of utmost importance to safeguard public interest and public confidence, Nair said.

The Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been assisting the Quoirin family since Nóra’s disappearance, was also shocked by the latest development.

The trust’s chief executive, Matthew Searle, said: “It seems unbelievable that, in a case that looks so complex and currently unexplained, that any authority could effectively close it down without even waiting for full reports.

“The idea that Nóra went off, on her own, seems incredibly unlikely. This family need answers and at least deserve an investigation to the greatest lengths available. We are urgently seeking answers from various authorities – Nóra’s death needs to be explained.”

After the postmortem on Nóra’s body, Malaysian police said on August 15 that there was no evidence of foul play. The police said the cause of death was upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to a duodenal ulcer complicated with perforation.

The bleeding in Nóra’s intestine was most likely caused by prolonged hunger and stress, Negeri Sembilan police chief Mohamad Mat Yusof said.

Civil suit

The Quoirins have filed a civil suit against the operator of the Dusun holiday resort where the family was staying when Nóra disappeared.

They are claiming at least 40,000 euro in damages and say that the resort was unsafe.

The defendant in the suit is Helen Marion Todd, who operates the resort.

The statement of claim was filed on December 24 in the Seremban Sessions Court, Negeri Sembilan, by Sankara N. Nair and partners on behalf of Nóra’s parents.

The first case management hearing is scheduled to take place on January 21 this year at the Seremban Sessions Court.

The statement of claim states that Nóra went through pain and suffering from August 4 until August 13, 2019.

The Quoirins plead that their daughter’s disappearance and death “were caused directly by the defendant’s negligence and/or recklessness, both by way of act or conduct and omission”.

They allege that the defendant, as the owner/occupier of the Dusun, was “in breach of the duty of care owed to the plaintiffs”.

A spokeswoman for the Dusun resort said that a statement would not at the moment be issued in response to the allegations.

The Quoirins’ statement of claim alleges that the latch on the window in the living area of the bungalow in which they were staying was broken.

When, at about 8 a.m. on the morning after they arrived, they discovered that Nóra was missing, they noticed that the living room window was ajar.

Nair says that, given that the latch of the window, which is at ground level, was broken, and the window could have been pulled open with ease from outside, “the police cannot conclude, without proper basis and hard evidence and logical explanation, that Nora was not abducted”.

The Quoirins also allege that the perimeter fencing at the Dusun was not secured, the entrance gate to the resort was kept open at all times, no CCTV recording was carried out, and no security personnel were in place to guard the property.

The attorney-general’s chambers has not replied to the Changing Times’ emails seeking clarification about the NFA decision.

Update 15/1/2020

Two French deputies (MPs) have demanded transparency from the Malaysian authorities in the case of the disappearance and death of Nóra Quoirin.

Anne Genetet and Alexandre Holroyd, who represent French citizens living abroad, called on the Malaysian authorities to reverse the “no further action” decision taken in the case and urgently transmit to Nóra’s parents the full conclusions of the investigation to date.

The deputies said: “We know all of France bore witness to this tragedy as it unfolded over the summer. It is imperative and a fundamental right that Nóra’s family should have access to the truth concerning their daughter’s death.”

The Malaysians should either reopen their investigation, or, at the very least, make a full report available to Nóra’s parents, they said.

The deputies said that, given Nóra’s physical and mental state, it was inconceivable that she would have gone out into the jungle in the middle of the night.

They added that, for months, the Malaysian authorities had failed to respond to the Quoirins’ questions, transmitted via their lawyer, and had bypassed the family, preferring instead to make announcements via the press.

The Malaysian authorities have concluded that Nóra’s death was accidental, the deputies said. “In doing this they have neglected to investigate alternative hypotheses considered to be extremely important for the family.”

The deputies say that, under Malaysian law, the authorities could have reopened the investigation into Nóra’s disappearance and death.

They say that, like the Quoirins, they don’t understand why the Malaysian judicial authorities refuse to disseminate the investigation’s findings and indeed reopen that investigation.

“We await a reversal of the authorities’ position. Light must be shed on this tragedy.”