Appeal hearing for cops convicted of Altantuya’s murder postponed to June 24

By Ida Lim

PUTRAJAYA, June 10 — The Court of Appeal today postponed to June 24 the appeal hearing of two policemen convicted of murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006 owing to the need for court documents to be produced to back up the additional grounds of appeal.

The hearing of Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar’s appeal against a 2009 Shah Alam High Court decision was originally set to run for three days from today.

When met outside the courtroom, Sirul Azhar’s lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin explained that the court found it necessary to view a 2008 court application by Karpal Singh to call up a few witnesses including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and to recall former private investigator P. Balasubramaniam over the latter's two conflicting statutory declarations.

Kamarul told reporters that Karpal’s application, which is relevant to the fresh grounds that he was seeking to introduce, was not included in the Court of Appeal’s note of proceedings.

“But as part of the consideration of that ground is a very important piece of evidence and that is the evidence of the application by Karpal Singh in the Shah Alam High Court during the trial before the close of the prosecutor’s case.

“That notes of proceeding where the High Court of Shah Alam heard Mr Karpal Singh’s application... are not now part of this court as part of the rekod rayuan (record of appeal).

“So the Court of Appeal thinks it is necessary in the interest of justice for them to look at this document to decide on the appeal... That is the reason why the court has postponed this matter,” Kamarul said.

Karpal was then holding a watching brief for Altantuya's family and the Mongolian government. Kamarul had told the court today that the Shah Alam High Court had heard and dismissed Karpal's application on July 23, 2008.

“We are given 10 days to file in new grounds of appeal,” Kamarul said, adding that the judges allowed the application for additional grounds of appeal for his client.

Kamarul Hisham confirmed that the Azilah had not filed a similar application and was not a party to Sirul Azhar’s application.

Azilah is represented by Datuk Hazman Ahmad.

The Court of Appeal’s three-man panel is led by Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali. The two other judges are Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Mohamed noted that the lawyers for Sirul Azhar had yet to submit their written submission.

Earlier in court, lead prosecutor Deputy Solicitor-General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah explained that Karpal’s application was a separate application from this trial and it was not included in the court’s notes of proceedings.

The appeal will now be heard for three days starting from June 24.

On April 9, 2009, Sirul Azhar and Azilah were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court for the murder of Altantuya at Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam between October 19 and 20, 2006.

The duo, who were then with the Bukit Aman Special Action Squad (UTK), had previously been charged under section 149 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

On October 31, 2008, the same court acquitted former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda of abetting them in the murder, following the prosecution’s failure to establish a prima facie case against him.