Thursday, June 26, 2014

Court reserves judgment in Altantuya murder case

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here today reserved its judgement in the prosecution’s appeal against the acquittal of two former Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel on a charge of murdering Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, chairing a five-member panel, deferred their decision to a date which would be announced on a later date after the prosecution and defence ended their submissions today.
The panel, also comprising Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Abdul Hamid Embong, Suriyadi Halim Omar and Ahmad Maarop, heard submissions on the appeal for three days from Monday.

The prosecution is appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision in acquitting Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 37 and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 42 on a charge of killing Altantuya, 28 at Mukim Bukit Raja in Shah Alam between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am, the following day in 2006.
The Court of Appeal had on Aug 23, last year allowed the appeal brought by the two policemen to set aside the 2009 Shah Alam High Court’s decision in finding them guilty for the woman’s murder and sentenced them to death.
Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 50 who was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul Azhar was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008 after it held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him. The prosecution did not appeal against his acquittal.
In today’s proceeding, Sirul Azhar’s counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin argued that his client was being made a scapegoat.
Justice Arifin then said: “If he is being made a scapegoat, he must be able to say why and by whom. Everyone would say that. You can’t say you are being made a scapegoat for no reason.”
Kamarul Hisham said there were two reasons for a person being made a scapegoat, firstly when someone was framing the person and secondly, evidence against a person was fabricated by the police.
“My client is saying that evidence was fabricated against him,” he said, adding that Sirul Azhar did not know why he was being targeted.
Circumstantial evidence
Kamarul Hisham said the real person who committed the crime was not called to court.
He said after police suspected Sirul Azhar based on some evidence, they could have fabricated more evidence to bolster their case.
Kamarul Hisham also said the Court of Appeal was correct to rule that the High Court judge misdirected himself when he did not address the issue of common intention to commit murder, although he found both policemen guilty on the murder charge.
He said the CCTV which captured Sirul Azhar exiting the toll gate towards Kota Damansara did not incriminate him as it was the way he normally used to return to his home in Jalan Semarak.
He also said that Sirul Azhar’s presence, together with Azilah, at Abdul Razak’s residence and at Hotel Malaya, where Altantuya was staying, was in doing their duties as police personnel.
In his reply, Deputy Solicitor-General II, Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, said there was circumstantial evidence pointing the two policemen to the crime.
He said Azilah’s defence alibi of being at Wangsa Maju was demolished by the prosecution’s evidence adduced through the call logs which disclosed that he was in Bukit Aman and then at Abdul Razak’s residence.
Tun Majid said police investigation also showed that Altantuya was taken in Sirul Azhar’s car, adding that the woman’s jewellery was also found in Sirul Azhar’s black jacket. – Bernama