NEWS

Accused led cops to where Altantuya blown up

Hafiz Yatim

Published
Modified 24 Jun 2014, 12:26 am

Last Aug 13, the Court of Appeal acquitted Special Action Unit officers Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar on their conviction for the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The Federal Court today began its three-day hearing of the prosecution's appeal against their acquittal.

Malaysiakini brings you live reports on the proceedings as they take place.

4.30pm: Justice Arifin halts proceedings and says the hearing will resume tomorrow. The court is thus adjourned for the day.

4.25pm: On the matter of the pair of slippers in Sirul's car, Tun Majid says the accused left the car keys in his office while on his trip to Pakistan.

Tun Majid claims the Special Action Squad officers were hostile towards the prosecutors, and had said the slippers were not there when the officers helped Sirul to start the car, when he was away.

"The slippers do not belong to the accused, and no evidence leads us as to how they got there. But there is blood found on the slippers.

“There was no blood at the scene of the crime as everything had dried up. If that is the case, how could the blood end (up) on the slippers? It must be from the scene,” the court is told.

4.20pm: Tun Majid submits that Sirul did not have an exceptional explanation as to how the jewellery ended up in his jacket.

"There was nothing (no way) for Altantuya's cousin to plant the evidence. The keys to the house were given by a police officer, who got it from ACP Mastor.

"We are saying we called all the relevant witnesses and that not an iota of evidence of a frame up. It would be despicable."

4.10pm: Justice Suriyadi says that the jewellery were taken before the deceased was blown up, if not there would be no trace of it.

Tun Majid says there was also DNA found in Sirul's jacket, which was later traced back to Altantuya's mother.

4.05pm: Sirul, Tun Majid says, led police to his house and Sirul showed the jewellery belonging to the deceased, which was identified by Altantuya's cousin.

There was also a dispute about the keys, but no evidence that police broke into the apartment.

"We had witnesses who were hostile to us, and they (the Special Action Force) fellows disputed the keys. When Sirul left for Pakistan, he left his car keys in Malaysia and the house keys were with him. Sirul gave his house keys to ACP Mastor. How could the defence say they were not the keys?

"The police used the same set of keys and they agreed. There were contradictions, but the witness admitted they were confused. The fact is, jewellery belonging to Altantuya was found in Sirul's jacket and this was identified by the deceased's cousin."

3.55pm: Justice Suriyadi asks if there was prior knowledge of the location, to which Tun Abdul Majid says the trial judge ruled that there was prior knowledge.

He says ACP Mastor Mohd Ariff who escorted Sirul from Pakistan also had a general idea of the location.

(Sirul was arrested while he was on duty, accompanying then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on his official visit to Pakistan, on Nov 6, 2006).

"He (Mastor) led another team to the crime scene.  This shows the police did not know the exact location," says Tun Abdul Majid.

Sirul only came later after Azilah arrived at the scene, and the police did not have prior knowledge of the crime scene, says Tun Majid in arguing that it was not planned earlier.

3.50pm: Justice Suriyadi asks why was there a need for a trial within a trial in the first place when there is an alibi?

Tun Abdul Majid says that is the requirement held by the trial (high) court judge.

Justice Ahmad asks about the police being required to gather at a particular place, but Tun Abdul Majid says the police were only asked to be on standby.

"The police only knew a general location that it was in Puncak Alam, but we did not know its actual location."

3.40pm: Tun Abdul Majid says Azilah led them to the scene of the crime.

"Upon reaching a land clearing, Azilah says this is the place and showed the incident where Altantuya was shot and the explosives were used on her," says Tun Abdul Majid citing the testimony of a police officer.

He says the trial judge heard the evidence given in the trial within trial.

Tun Abdul Majid says Altantuya's remains were found on the top of the hill and this evidence was produced and contested in the trial within trial.

"We submit this evidence in the trial within trial is admissible as Puncak Alam is not a building, it is a jungle."

3.25pm: Tun Abdul Majid says PI Balasubramaniam saw Azilah at his Bukit Damansara home and not TTDI, Shah Alam on Oct 18, 2006.

Azilah, he says, cannot claim he was elsewhere.

"The court of appeal decision is wrong as the defendants did not call any experts to rebut the evidence from the telco operators.

"You need to call other experts to rebut this, but no one was called," he adds.

3.08pm: Tun Abdul Majid says Azilah's alibi is not possible, as the telco stations did not record any calls in his claimed location to corroborate.

"The first respondent (Azilah) could not be in Wangsa Maju, Batu Caves or elsewhere (at the material time).

"This particular zone and time shows Azilah was at Puncak Alam (near the crime scene). He is not at Wangsa Maju as alleged in his alibi," says the deputy solicitor-general II.

2.45pm: Tun Abdul Majid recaps that Azilah's alibi was that at the time of crime, he had gone to Wangsa Maju and later went back to Jalan Duta.

He continues submitting on the issue of the telco towers and the locations of the calls made during the material time of the crime.

Arifin is presiding. Tun Majid continues his submission.

2.41pm: Azilah and Sirul enter through the court's side entrance and not through the normal entrance to prevent photographers from taking photos of the accused.

Their faces are not covered, unlike in the earlier trial.

Court resumes session, with Justice Arifin presiding. Tun Majid continues his submission.

12.20pm: There is no evidence of "interference" (tampering) in the data, says Tun Abdul Majid.

Any mistakes in it are minor, he adds.

Tun Abdul Majid says Azilah ( right ) could not have been at his alibi's place in Wangsa Maju.

Court then breaks for lunch, and will resume at 2.30pm.

12.05pm: Tun Abdul Majid demonsrates how a particular phone broadcasting station can detect where a person making a call is located.

He says there was no tampering of the handphone data on the accused.

"There is no concoction of evidence," he says, adding the phone operator witness had tested the accuracy of this by making a call and verifying the location.

11.50am: Judges are questioning whether the police station diary is a contemporaneous document.

Tun Abdul Majid say the call logs of the police officers have been verified by the handphone operators (telcos) who had printed out the data, and signed it saying it is verified.

This call log shows the locations of the accused at a certain point of time especially on the night of the incident.

11.30am: Tun Abdul Majid says Azilah had failed to produce any witnesses for his alibi in his case.

He adds the High Court had found the defence by the two accused were mere denials and they had failed to raise any doubt to the prosecution's case.

Tun Abdul Majid ( left ) says the Court of Appeal decision was wrong, as Azilah did not call his witness to support his alibi and therefore, the onus should be on the defence to prove it and not the  prosecution.

11.25am: Tun Abdul Majid says the discovery of the spent cartridge inside Sirul Azhar's car and CCTV recordings show the deceased was on the way to Puncak Alam with the accused.

He says there was a slipper found inside Sirul's vehicle that showed a blood smudge and tests have shown it contains Altantuya's DNA.

"Sirul says he was made a scapegoat, but shows little evidence to support this," he says.

Both accused were at Hotel Malaya on Oct 18, 2006, where Altantuya stayed, he adds.

11.20am: Tun Abdul Majid relates the case background.

He says the deceased had a relationship with political analyst and had sought the help of DSP Musa Safri, who was the aide de camp of Najib Abdul Razak at the time.

On October 20, 2006, Altantuya's cousin reported the loss. The cause of death is blast-related injuries.

Tun Abdul Majid says there was contact between the respondents and the deceased starting from Abdul Razak Baginda's house.

11.5am: A five member panel led by chief justice Arifin Zakaria is chairing the appeal.

The others are chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Abdull Hamid Embong, Suriyadi Halim Omar and Ahmad Maarop.

Deputy solicitor-general II Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, is introducing the parties.

Sirul is dressed in a brown long-sleeved shirt with songkok, while Azilah is wearing a grey coat.

8.43am: Besides the highly charged The Herald case over the Allah verdict today, the prosecution's appeal over the acquittal of the two police Special Action Unit members over the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder is also scheduled after the decision.

The duo chief inspector Azilah Hadri ( left ), 38, and corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 42, along with political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda were initially jointly charged with murdering the 28-year-old Mongolian interpreter.

However, as the prosecution closed its case at the Shah Alam High Court, Abdul Razak was acquitted without his defence being called. The prosecution did not appeal with the decision.

The two officers however, were found by the High Court in 2009 guilty with murdering the Mongolian national at a jungle clearing in Bukit Raja, Shah Alam between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am the following day in 2006, and was sentenced to death.

However, on appeal the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's decision after it found that there were several misdirections committed by the trial judge, and ordered them to be discharged and acquitted.

The misdirections include the non-calling of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's former aide de camp DSP Musa Safri.

Hence, Azilah was released from Kajang prison and Sirul from Tapah prison.

Following this, the prosecution filed an appeal and stated 24 grounds of appeal including argument that Musa was not a key witness.

With Azilah and Sirul's release, it would be interesting to see whether the two will keep their face covered today as they had in the initial trial, as they go through the front door.

In addition, Azilah also grabbed headlines last week after he was caught for khalwat and is expected to be charged soon.

Against this backdrop, the prosecution's appeal headed by deputy solicitor-general II Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah will be heard for three days beginning today.

Azilah will be represented by Hazman Ahmad and J Kuldeep Kumar and lawyers Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Hasnal Rezua Merican and Sirul by Zaidi Zainol.

'Cops couldn't have planted evidence on Sirul'

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