KUALA LUMPUR: The family of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu will file an appeal against the Shah Alam High Court's decision to exclude evidence from her (criminal) murder case in their (civil) suit against the government.
When contacted, the family's counsel Sangeet Kaur Deo said, "We will be filing (the appeal) tomorrow morning (Oct 3)."
On Monday (Oct 1), High Court judge Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera dismissed their application to include the murder trial evidence on grounds that Section 43 of the Evidence Act did not allow it.
In the trial, police officers C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar were found guilty of murder.
Altantuya's father Shaariibuu Setev, his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and Altantuya's two sons, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Althanshagai Munkhtulga are suing Azilah and Sirul, as well as political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the Malaysian government.
The family alleges that there was a conspiracy behind Altantuya’s murder, and are seeking damages up to RM100mil, including dependency claims, in their statement of claim filed on June 4, 2007.
Sangeet said Section 43 of the Evidence Act basically stated that a judgment or conviction in another court cannot be used in subsequent proceedings, and so Altantuya's family had to prove the killing all over again in the civil court.
The standard of proof required in a civil court is at a lower level (called “the balance of probabilities”) compared to the standard required in a criminal court (which is called “beyond a reasonable doubt”).
Thus, evidence in a criminal case has passed a stricter test than in a civil case. Yet in Malaysia, it cannot be used in a civil suit.
Sangeet had said previously that it was time for the Attorney General to change this rule, which followed the old English law. She had said that Singapore and the United Kingdom had already amended their laws to avoid this situation.
Abdul Razak was charged with conspiring with Azilah and Sirul to murder Altantuya in 2006, but he was acquitted of the charge in October 2008 without having to enter his defence. Azilah and Sirul Azhar were found guilty of the murder in 2009.
On Aug 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed Azilah and Sirul Azhar’s appeal and acquitted them of the charge.
But on Jan 13, 2015, the Federal Court allowed the government’s appeal and overturned their acquittal. They were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Sirul fled to Australia before the verdict by the Federal Court was delivered in 2015 and is currently being held at an Australian detention centre.