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Jiah Khan hanging was staged, claims British forensic expert

The late actress's mother Rabia had hired the expert who has raised doubts about the findings of the CBI and state forensic experts.

Mayur Lookhar

For a long time now it has appeared that Jiah Khan's mother Rabia was fighting a losing battle in the case of her daughter's mysterious death, but the findings of a British forensic expert may keep the matter alive a while longer. Rabia Khan hired the services of the expert, Jason James-Pynes, who has raised doubts over the findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and claimed that Jiah's hanging may have been staged.

The Indian investigative agency's forensic report had attributed the injury marks on Jiah's lower lip to friction with her teeth while committing suicide by hanging. But, according to a report in India Today, James-Pynes believes Jiah's injuries represent abrasions or bruises. The British forensic expert believes blunt force was applied to the actress's face, either through a punch or by putting a hand over her mouth.

The ligature marks on Jiah's neck, state forensic experts had said, were caused by slippage of the ligature material [a dupatta] or the ligature knot. However, James-Pynes believes such impressions could not have been created by the dupatta. "It would seem unlikely that the diffused pressure of the dupatta around the neck would cause the well-defined abraded ligature mark seen," he said, according to the newsmagazine's website.

Jiah's boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi's father Aditya Pancholi, however, dismissed James-Pynes's findings as a "paid report". “This report is from a private forensic lab and it's paid. We will see if a court admits it," he told a tabloid. "The investigations have been done by different agencies and all of them have come to the same conclusion [that it was a suicide]."

Jiah Khan was found dead in her apartment in Juhu, Mumbai, on 3 June 2013. Subsequently, Sooraj was accused of abetting her suicide. However, the Bombay high court twice stayed the trial against him. The final word in the matter is still to be said. Sooraj remains out on bail. No date has been fixed for the next hearing.