SHAH ALAM: The family of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu will have to prove her brutal killing all over again as the civil High Court has ruled that evidence from the murder case, which found two police officers guilty, cannot be used in the civil case.
Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera dismissed an application by the deceased Mongolian translator’s family to include evidence of her murder case in their suit against the government.
Justice Vazeer said he was bound by Section 43 of the Evidence Act, which restricted him from relying on the criminal conviction that found the two police officers guilty of the murder.
They named police officers C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the government as defendants in the suit.
In the statement of claim, the family alleged that there was a conspiracy behind Altantuya’s murder and sought damages, including dependency claims.
When met after the decision, the family’s counsel Sangeet Kaur Deo said the High Court disallowed their application to add the criminal conviction to the civil suit.
“Section 43 of the Act basically stated that a judgment or conviction in another court cannot be used in subsequent proceedings,” she said.
“For that reason, my clients (plaintiffs) are required to prove the killing all over again in this court.”
The plaintiffs would have to recall the witnesses of the High Court criminal case, including the police.
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 criminal case has passed a stricter test than in a civil case, yet in Malaysia, it cannot be used in a civil suit.
Sangeet explained that Section 43 of the Evidence Act was based on the old English position of law.
She said it was time the government and Attorney General (Tommy Thomas) considered amending the Evidence Act to allow criminal proceedings to be used in a civil trial.
The law has already been amended as such in the United Kingdom and Singapore.
Sangeet said she had been instructed to file an appeal this week.
In a related case, the government is also seeking to be left out of the RM100mil civil suit filed by Altantuya’s family.
The Federal Court will on Nov 12 hear the government’s appeal against a Court of Appeal’s decision in reinstating it as a defendant in the RM100mil lawsuit.
On Aug 23 last year, the Shah Alam High Court allowed the government’s application to strike out the suit. But the Court of Appeal overturned that decision on March 14.
Abdul Razak was charged with conspiring with Azilah and Sirul Azhar to kill 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 Azhar fled to Australia before the verdict by the Federal Court was delivered in 2015 and is currently being held at an Australian detention centre.