SHAH ALAM: The Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial has been brought forward to June 4, nine months earlier than its scheduled date.
Judicial Commissioner Mohd Zaki Md Yasin, who took over the case from a more senior judge, Justice K.N. Segara, said the court was inclined to start the trial as early as next month.
It however had to settle for the June date because lawyers for the two policemen charged with the murder of the Mongolian beauty, requested for time to prepare their defence.
Lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, who appeared for Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, had asked for the trial to start in May or June while Zulkifli Noordin, who acted for C/Insp Azilah Hadri, was adamant that the case be heard from June 4.
“Please give us time to prepare the defence to avoid future hiccups,” Zulkifli said.
“We want extra time to prepare but not KK (Wong). If possible, he would want the trial to start tomorrow,” Zulkifli said, referring to Counsel Wong Kian Kheong, who appeared for the third person implicated in the case, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
Wong then quipped that he had wanted the trial to start “last week.”
“I was given strict instructions by my client to get the earliest possible date because he wants to be vindicated as soon as possible,” Wong said.
The judge then asked DPP Salehuddin Saidin how many days he needed for the trial, to which the prosecutor said he had about 40 witnesses and needed about a month.
The DPP also said he was ready to conduct the case.
When the judge suggested that the trial be fixed in May instead of April, Zulkifli again stood his ground.
This prompted the judge to remark: “You seem to want a later date when the defence counsel usually asks for an earlier trial.”
Wong, who agreed with the judge, then tried to get up to say something but was asked by a smiling Zulkifli not to reply. This drew laughter from the public gallery.
The judge finally fixed the June 4 date but warned all parties that he would not entertain any request for further postponement.
Earlier, DPP Salehuddin also raised the issue of Razak replacing his solicitors Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill with the law firm Norendra & Yap.
He said that Dhiren Rene Norendra, who is a partner in the new firm of solicitors, was a potential witness in the case and he was concerned about future complications.
Wong explained that he was the counsel in the case but he would advise Razak to change his solicitors again.
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