PETALING JAYA, Aug 23 — The Attorney-General must explain how his prosecutors allowed two former police commandos to go free for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu after the Court of Appeal today reversed the 2009 conviction, Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers demanded.
The Court of Appeal overturned Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar’s 2009 conviction of the high-profile murder of the Mongolian woman, reportedly ruling that there was a misdirection by the High Court judge in the trial then.
The DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo said Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail must now answer for the prosecution team’s failure to ensure a safe conviction.
“The A-G must explain why is it they failed to call material witnesses in support of their case in this prosecution,” Puchong MP said.
“It is difficult to comprehend how it is the A-G and his chambers, with the vast experience they have, could have omitted to call all these witnesses necessary to prove the case, resulting in which the Court of Appeal has now found it unsafe for a conviction against Sirul and Azilah to stand,” the head of the DAP’s legal bureau told The Malay Mail Online.
“We have repeatedly, time and time again, demanded that the A-G adduce evidence of motive and also who instructed the killing but the A-G has failed to respond.
“Now he must explain,” Gobind said, pressing the A-G to appeal against today’s court ruling.
PKR vice-president N. Surendran labelled the Altantuya case as a “national embarrassment”, noting the global audience that the murder of the Mongolian model had garnered.
“We expected this because from the beginning the Altantuya trial was a charade and it was intended to hide the truth and not to find who the perpetrators are and punish them,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Surendran said that despite Altantuya’s death over six years ago, no one has been brought to book for the murder.
“After so many years, the cruel and gruesome murder of Altantuya, not a single person has been found accountable and punished
“All those charged have been acquitted,” said Surendran, who is also a lawyer.
“This is a complete failure of justice to people of the country and Altantuya and her family,” he said.
The Padang Serai MP later demanded the government file an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision today.
PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said he respected the court’s decision today, but said new questions would now arise.
“But this decision would cause a question to arise, who is Altantuya’s murderer?” he asked.
“Will it be that after this there would be stories that Altantuya killed herself?” the Pokok Sena MP later asked
He expressed concern that such unanswered questions would tarnish the country’s name and create the perception that Malaysia was unsafe.
Mahfuz then proposed a reinvestigation and called for the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the matter.
“Therefore I hope for a reinvestigation of the Altantuya case,” he said, voicing his doubts that the initial probe was done in a transparent manner.
He also said there should then be a retrial after the fresh probe.
The Court of Appeal’s decision today was delivered by a three-man panel of Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali, Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
Azilah and Sirul, both formerly with the police’s Special Action Unit (UTK), were found guilty in 2009 of committing the offence in Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang between 10pm on October 19, 2006 and 1am on October 20, 2006.
During the course of their trial, it was revealed that the Mongolian model was shot and her body blown-up with explosives in a jungle clearing on the night of October 19.
The two had been charged under section 149 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.
Altantuya was said to have acted as a translator for Perimekar Sdn Bhd in Malaysia’s multi-billion ringgit purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines from French firm DCNS, prior to her murder.
Perimekar is owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, and reportedly received RM574 million in commission for providing support and co-ordination services to Putrajaya for the 2002 deal, back when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the defence minister.
Abdul Razak was initially charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul but was acquitted on October 31, 2008, after the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.
Azilah and Sirul will be released from Sungai Buloh Prison today once documentation is complete.
The prosecution led by Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah said it will appeal today’s decision.