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Altantuya case: Was it just prosecutorial incompetence?

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Are third parties interfering and preventing prosecution officers from doing what they would have normally done? Or is it just a case of negligence, wonders Charles Hector.

Mongolian fashion model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, who was murdered in Malaysia in 2006 amid allegations of bribery, backmail, treachery and cover-up. Photo: Asia Sentinel
Mongolian fashion model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, who was murdered in Malaysia in 2006 amid allegations of bribery, backmail, treachery and cover-up. Photo: Asia Sentinel

Is it just the incompetence of the prosecution? Yes, it is the prosecution who have the duty to prove that a person is guilty of a crime beyond reasonable doubt.

But, in some cases, one wonders whether it is just simply a question of negligence or incompetence that they fail in this duty – or was it intentional?

Are third parties interfering and preventing prosecution officers from doing what they would have normally done? Or is it just a case of negligence?

Remember, once a person is charged, tried and acquitted – he cannot be charged again for the same offence; it is called “double jeopardy”. And that makes one wonder whether these failings of the prosecution are intentional?

Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock was wheeled out of the Kuala Lumpur court complex a free man after he was acquitted by the Sessions Court here of committing criminal breach of trust 13 years ago involving RM76.4m

Akhtar said the most glaring setback was the prosecution’s failure to call two material witnesses, who would have been able to confirm whether payment was needed for the technical assistance agreements (TAA) signed between Perwaja Rolling Mill Development and NKK Corporation.

He said former Perwaja company secretary R R Durai Rajasingam, who was involved in all Perwaja’s contracts, would have known the actual contents of the TAA….“Yet the prosecution never called him. The question is why?…The judge also questioned the prosecution’s reluctance to call the five Japanese witnesses, including NKK Corporation, Japan, director N Otani, who was present at the signing of the TAA in Japan in 1993….He said the prosecution failed to lead any evidence to show fabrication of that document, which it contended. – The Star, 27 July 2007, ‘Eric Chia acquitted of CBT’.

Former land and cooperative development minister Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam was acquitted and discharged by the High Court here of committing corrupt practice and cheating involving shares belonging to the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) in 1996…. Justice Suraya said the failure of the prosecution in not calling six board members who were present in the meeting was detrimental to the case as it had created a big gap over the question of whether the board members were actually cheated by the accused. .- The Star, 13 August 2009, ‘Kasitah freed of corruption charges’.

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And now, in this Altantuya case,

While the Court of Appeal last Friday detailed the non-calling of Najib Abdul Razak’s aide-de-camp DSP Musa Safri as a factor in acquitting the two Special Action Unit officers, the written judgment also states that the second accused, Sirul Azhar Umar, could have been framed. – Malaysiakini, 26 August 2013, ‘Court: Sirul could have been framed for Altantuya murder’.

We have been talking about judicial reforms; maybe it is time to talk about prosecution reforms – maybe we need to place safeguards to ensure independence of prosecutors.

So, who killed Altantuya? And why?

23 August 2013

Seven years on, no one has paid the price for the death of Altantuya Shaariibuu. And no one knows why the pretty Mongolian was killed one night in October 2006.

But today’s Court of Appeal decision does not close the file on her mysterious murder.

Instead, the ruling to acquit former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and former corporal Sirul Azhar Umar raises more questions than ever.

Who killed her? Why?

She was shot dead and C4 explosives were allegedly used to blow her to bits but both police commandos said they had no access to the explosives. So what happened? Were there others involved?

She came into the country but there were no immigration records with her name. Did she use another passport? Can the authorities explain this?

Some of these questions could have been answered if the likes of DSP Musa Safri had been called to give evidence.

The prosecution did not call him and the appeal court today allowed the appeal because material witnesses were not called to testify, including Musa.

Musa would have been able to say what sort of help political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda had asked of him to fend off Altantuya.

The interpreter had become Abdul Razak’s lover but later hounded him. He had to hire private investigator P Balasubramaniam to keep watch on her. When Altantuya turned up that fateful night on 19 October 2006, the policemen took her away and that was the last time she was seen alive.

What followed rocked Malaysia’s political establishment. Abdul Razak was held in connection with the murder and both police commandos Azilah and Sirul were later charged for Altantuya’s murder.

Their connection to each other was simply Musa, who was aide-de-camp to then deputy prime minister and defence minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Now prime minister, Najib has denied any links to the case although Abdul Razak was closely associated with him. Will today’s ruling provide closure for him too?

Will it also provide closure for Abdul Razak, who was the first to be acquitted of conspiring to kill Altantuya? He had admitted to fending her off but not asking for her death.

Interestingly, the prosecution never appealed his acquittal.

But the prosecution has said it would appeal today’s ruling that freed Azilah and Sirul, both of whom were hooded and shielded from public view during their 159-day murder trial.

That again raises more questions. And endless possibilities. – The Malaysian Insider, 20 August 2013, ‘So, who killed Altantuya? And why?’

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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najib manaukau
12 Sep 2013 1.16pm

It was never intended to have the real murderer or murders identified, period. Who would have the authority to delete the immigration records of Altantuya’ entry into Malaysia plus who would have the authority to take from the country’s arsenal the C4 used to blow her up ? Do you really need to blow up a woman up to pieces ? It was so obvious, from the beginning not to have this mongolian beauty to have appeared in Malaysia. Therefore one cannot be blown up when Altantuya never ever set foot in the country and above all why would the two police officers, assigned to protect the then DPM , who did not ever meet her in their life time blow her up into hundred or even thousand of pieces thereby leaving no traces of her around ? Come on, the lackeys and real murderer or murderers of the mongolian beauty please remember one cannot cover fire with paper ! Again this is Malaysia where anything is possible, including murder and blowing up a person without any trace and if the … police and the incompetent… Read more »

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