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Saturday August 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday August 24, 2013 MYT 9:01:52 AM
by qishin tariq, nurbaiti hamdan, AND michelle tam
PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has discharged and acquitted two policemen from the charge of murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu seven years ago.
The three-man panel, chaired by Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali, spared Special Action Unit members Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar and C/Insp Azilah Hadri from the gallows by unanimously setting aside the death sentences imposed on them by the Shah Alam High Court in 2009.
Justices Linton Albert, Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and Apandi ruled yesterday that the cumulative effect of the non-directions by the trial judge had “rendered the conviction and sentence unsafe”.
“Thus, we set aside the High Court’s judgment, and accordingly acquit and discharge the two appellants,” said Justice Tengku Maimun, reading from the four-page summary judgment.
Family members and supporters of Sirul Azhar and Azilah, were overjoyed by the decision, hugging each other while the court was still in proceedings.
However, the Special Action Unit members remained stoic when the judgment was read.
The panel concluded that the trial judge had erred by not examining whether the contradictions and inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were material.
In regards to the use of an explosive, the judges noted that after linking it to the death of Altantuya, the trial judge should have made a further finding to connect it to the appellants.
Justice Tengku Maimun said the evidence of former Deputy Supt Musa Safri was essential to unfold the narrative upon which the prosecution’s case was based on.
“The failure of the prosecution to call or offer for cross examination DSP Musa would have triggered the adverse inference against the prosecution.
“On common intention, we find the trial judge made no findings on whether the prosecution has established that there was a prearranged plan by the appellants to commit murder and that murder was committed pursuant to the plan,” added Justice Tengku Maimun.
Sirul Azhar and Azilah were convicted and sentenced to death for killing the Mongolian woman at Mukim Bukit Raja, Klang, between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006, and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.
Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda Baginda, who was jointly charged with them, was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008, after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.
Sirul Azhar’s lawyer, Kamarul Hisham and Azilah’s counsel Datuk Hazman Ahmad appeared to be stunned by the judgment.
Hazman, who was initially speechless when approached by the media, later said:
“Thank goodness, it’s done. What we’ve worked for is a success. Hopefully, the prosecution will not pursue this matter further.
Deputy Solicitor General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, however, said the prosecution would appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, meanwhile, said in a press statement that DSP Musa’s testimony had no relevance as the whole narrative of the prosecution’s case had unfolded in the trial before the High Court.
“While respecting the Court of Appeal, the Attorney-General’s Chamber for prosecution is dissatisfied with the decision as non-direction or misdirection by the trial court is not the fault of the prosecution,” he said.
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