Kuala Lumpur (AFP)
A Malaysian coroner will begin an inquiry next week into the death of a French-Irish teenager whose unclothed body was found in the jungle after she went missing on holiday last year.
Nora Quoirin, a 15-year-old with learning difficulties, disappeared from the resort 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 probably starved and died of internal bleeding after spending about a week in the dense rainforest.
Malaysian police insisted there was no sign of foul play and authorities classed the case as “requiring no further action”.
But her parents — who believe there was a criminal element to her death, as they say the teen would not have wandered off alone — pushed for an inquest, which starts on Monday.
“We hope that all avenues surrounding Nora’s disappearance will be fully explored and not just the theory which the police has always favoured,” her parents, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin, said in a statement to AFP.
“Only we, her parents, have a real understanding of what Nora was and was not capable of, and up to now it seems that her handicap has not been truly taken into account.”
They described the inquest, which runs until September 4 and will be live-streamed to the public, as “a crucial element in the fight for truth and justice for Nora”.
Last week, the coroner went to the Dusun Resort south of Kuala Lumpur, where the teenager disappeared from her room on August 4, 2019, the day after the family had checked in.
She also made a pre-inquiry visit to the area where the body was found, police said, a trip described by the Quoirin family’s new lawyer S. Sakthyvell as “quite thorough”.
The teenager’s Irish mother and French father will not be present at the inquest proceedings because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sakthyvell said.
They will instead be interviewed by the coroner on a video-conferencing platform.
Sixty-two more witnesses will be called on to give evidence for the first time, the lawyer said — including police, hikers who found her body, and a British forensics expert who will also join by video link.
“We cannot imagine closure, we miss Nora every day,” the parents said in their statement.
“But we are determined to fight for her, always and however we can.”