SHAH ALAM: Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 32, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar,36, were found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu three years ago, wrapping up the country's longest trial ever.
Justice Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin, said the prosecution had proven the case against them beyond reasonable doubt.
He said their defences were essentially ones of denial and of blaming each other and as such, were irreconcilable and unbelievable.
"Thus they have failed to raise any reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case which I find to be irresistibly conclusive on account of the physical and circumstantial evidence adduced before me.
"I therefore now sentence you, Azilah and Sirul Azhar, to death and both of you will henceforth be kept in lawful custody until you are brought to a lawful place where you will be hung by the neck until you are dead," he said.
The defense counsels said they would appeal.
Azilah, is represented by two counsels, Datuk Hazman Ahmad and J. Kuldeep Kumar while Sirul Azhar, is represented by Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Hasnal Redzua Marican and Ahmad Zaidi Zainal.
In elaborating the sole defence of C/Insp Azilah who testified under oath in January, Justice Mohd Zaki said the first accused had contended that he did not utter those statements relating to the scene which were admitted by the court as evidence of information leading to discovery of facts.
“That he (C/Insp Azilah) was not at the scene of crime at the relevant dates and times and instead claimed that he was somewhere in Wangsa Maju as per his notice of alibi, and that he was not the last person to be with the deceased for he had handed her over to the second accused on the night in question to send her back to Hotel Malaya,” he said.
However, Justice Mohd Zaki noted that C/Insp Azilah did not call any of his witnesses to support his defence and his alibi.
“The law relating to the non-calling of a witness by the defence is well settled,” said the judge.
On the defence of Kpl Sirul who gave his statement in dock on Feb 4, the judge said Kpl Sirul claimed that he was made “the scapegoat”.
“Kpl Sirul claimed that he did not utter all the statements relating to those personal belongings of the deceased which were admitted by this court as evidence of information leading to the discovery of facts under Section 27 of Evidence Act.
“He claimed that he was not at the crime scene but was instead having tea at Devi’s Corner in Sri Hartamas and having “sahur” at Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur and that the deceased had never been handed over to him by the first accused for her to be sent back to Hotel Malaya,” he said.
Justice Mohd Zaki said the law relating to the weight to be attached to the unsworn statement from the dock, which was not subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution, was also likewise settled.
“The weight to be attached to this category of defence may not be the same as one attached to the defence upon evidence on oath,” he said.
However, he said the court must consider it for whatever it was worth having regard to the other evidence available and to see whether the defence had succeeded in casting a reasonable doubt in the case.
In Thursday’s proceedings, Justice Mohd Zaki only read out the final four pages of his 283-page draft judgment.
Kpl Sirul and C/Insp Azilah had claimed trial to murdering the Mongolian beauty between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006 at Mukim Bukit Raja here.
The two were ordered on Oct 31 to enter their defence.
Last October, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda was acquited without his defence being called of abetting in the murder of the 28-year-old Mongolian woman.
Eighty-four witnesses out of 198 witnesses had testified in the trial that took 165 days to complete recording their evidence.
In an immediate response, lead prosecutor DPP Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah said it was a fair decision saying that the prosecution had strong circumstantial evidence against both accused.
“Of course, the battle is not over yet. It will be a fight at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Only if the Federal Court affirms the decision, is it settled. Let’s wait and see at the appellate court,” he said with a smile.
For now, DPP Tun Abd Majid said the prosecution was satisfied as their hard work had paid off.
“As far as the prosecution is concerned, there was no involvement of anyone else, politically or otherwise,” he added.
Lawyer Datuk Hazman Ahmad, for C/Insp Azilah, said he would file an appeal against the court ruling, probably by next week.
Counsel Hasnal Rezua Merican, acteing for Kpl Sirul, said he would file an appeal against the court decision.
Among those present in court included Mongolian translator Enkhjargal Tsetsgee, who sent a text message to Altantuya’s father over the verdict.
Earlier, over 60 media representatives were screened to the courtroom at 8.50am.
C/Insp Azilah, clad in blue checked long-sleeve shirt and black pants, walked to the courtroom at 9am and jovially chatted with his fiancee Nur Azila Baharuddin and hugged his friend.
Shortly later, Kpl Sirul, attired in black shirt with a matching dark coat and black pants, came and shook hands with his police friends.
In the high profile trial that hogged the local and international media, the duo were charged with murdering Altantuya, who was 28 then, between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 Mukim Bukit Raja near here, between 10 pm, Oct 19 and 1 am, Oct 20, 2006.
Initially they were tried together with the executive director of Malaysian Strategic Research Centre (MSRC), Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, 48, who was charged with abetment in the murder of Altantuya.
However on Oct 31, 2008, the political analyst walked out a free man after the court found that the prosecution had failed to furnish proof on an important element on the abetment charge.
Abdul Razak since has left to United Kingdom and is said to be taking up a PhD at Oxford University.
While Azilah and Sirul Azhar -- who pleaded not guilty -- were hoping to be released, the prosecution went all out to prove they were the ones behind Altantuya's murder and the disposal of her remains using explosives.
The prosecution team consisting of Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, Noorin Badaruddin, Manoj Kurup and Hanim Rashid, stressed in their submissions that Azilah and Sirul Azhar were the people behind Altantuya's murder.
Based on the evidence gathered from prosecution witnesses, the explosive used to blow up Altantuya's body was probably placed in her mouth.
Manoj noted at the end of the prosecution's case that both accused had the motive to kill and it was a preplanned crime.
Manoj noted that several circumstantial pieces of evidence that the prosecution tried to prove were never denied, explained or answered by both defendants.
"Several of the strong evidence deduced from the testimonies when spun together will make two ropes that are strong enough to hang each one of them.
"The prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt on the actions of the duo calls for their conviction on the murder carried out with the common intention," he had said.
Azilah, who started his testimony on Jan 15, stated that he had no motive to kill or destroy the woman and instead he only met Altantuya to advise her politely not to harass Abdul Razak or create a ruckus outside the latter's home.
Azilah also told the court that he was ordered by a superior, DSP Musa Safri to help Abdul Razak and thus he would not have done something stupid like killing -- especially seeing he was a policeman.
While defending himself Sirul Azhar broke down a few times and claimed he had been made the sacrificial lamb in the murder.
The case has set many records including being the most number of days for hearing (159 days) and 84 witnesses at the prosecution stage and two at the defence stage, and it remained the high profile case for almost two years before Abdul Razak was released.
According to records, Azilah has been incarcerated at the Sungai Buloh Prison for 891 days while Sirul Azhar 895 days.
Previous stories: Motive remains unclear, says Karpal Calm despite death sentence April 9 decision date for murder accused Azilah and Sirul Sirul wants acquittal Raja Petra’s lawyer grills cop over Razak’s link in murder case Witness: Najib not involved
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