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Published: Monday November 10, 2008 MYT 1:02:00 PM
Updated: Monday November 10, 2008 MYT 5:06:31 PM

Altantuya case: Missing PI sought as witness (updated)

SHAH ALAM: “Missing” private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, whose whereabouts are still unknown, and Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin are among the witnesses sought by the defence in the Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial.

The trial has been postponed to Jan 15 next year to allow the defence more time to prepare their case and gather witnesses.

C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, who donned suits, were supposed to enter their defence Monday against the murder charge. They had chosen to testify under oath.

Kpl Sirul Azhar’s counsel Kamarul Hisham told the Shah Alam High Court Monday that they wanted to call Balasubramaniam and Raja Petra with regards to their statutory declarations regarding the case.

Kamarul said there was no response from Raja Petra’s lawyers despite the many messages, calls and a letter on Oct 31 expressing their intention to interview him.

Kamarul asked for more time to locate Balasubramaniam as police were looking for him and to find out whether Raja Petra was willing to be interviewed.

“If he (Raja Petra) is not willing then maybe we can ask the court to subpoena him,” he told the court.

Meanwhile, C/Insp Azilah’s counsel Datuk Hazman Ahmad told the court they needed more time to prepare his client and asked for leeway to settle a backlog of cases which had to be postponed due to this trial.

“We have not gotten the witnesses that we need. We were supposed to meet the witnesses offered by the prosecution on Saturday but most of them were not in KL and two were in Sabah and thus we could prepare for today.”

When met by reporters later, Hazman said they would be going for the alibi defence for his client and it had nothing to do with Raja Petra or Balasubramaniam. He would be calling eight witnesses.

Kamarul told reporters they may submit the statutory declarations as evidence if Balasubramaniam could not be found.

Both lawyers, who submitted prior applications for the postponement, argued in court that the prosecution took one and a half years to submit their case and thus the defence should be given time to present theirs.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah told the court that he did not object to the case postponement but said they would object to the defence’s intention to recall some of the prosecution’s witnesses including Balasubramaniam.

High Court Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin said the matter of calling Balasubramaniam did not really arise if his whereabouts are unknown.

Abdul Majid said he had instructed investigating officer ASP Tony Lunggan to locate Balasubramaniam.

“Until (Sunday) we could not locate him. No one is occupying his house in Rawang anymore,” he told the court.

Justice Mohd Zaki fixed the trial date from Jan 15 next year and said it would continue until the trial ends as he did not want any more postponements.

The two accused, who were Special Action Force (UTK) operatives, were charged with murdering Altantuya at Mukim Bukit Raja, Selangor, between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.

Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted of abetment in Altantuya’s murder on Oct 31.

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