The verdict on the two former policemen illustrates the failure of the system, says Lawyers for Liberty's N Surendran, who is also a PKR leader.
LFL member and PKR vice president N Surendran labelled the Court of Appeal ruling this morning as such and said the verdict was expected.
“We expected this from the beginning since it was a set-up to hide the truth and protect the guilty,” he said.
“The bottom line is, she was murdered in the most gruesome and brutal manner and after so many years, no one has been held accountable or found guilty,” said the Padang Serai MP.
The PKR vice-president then said the verdict was a “national embarrassment and a complete failure of the system”.
“The system has failed because there is no attempt to find out who the real perpetrators are.
“It is a national embarrassment and this will make international news, especially since it involves a foreign national,” he said.
‘So who killed Altantuya?’
Fellow LFL lawyer and PKR leader Latheefa Koya raised the question of who then, killed, Altantuya?
“So the question now is, who actually killed Altantuya? If they [the two former policemen] did not do it, then who did?
“We cannot help but wonder what really is going on. The matter is shocking, we would like to know who killed Altantuya,” she said.
The same question was also raised by Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel.
“This shocking verdict throws open the murder of Altantuya into scrutiny. So who killed her?
“How were the C4 explosives obtained? It is not like you can get C4 at 7-11 stores,” she said.
Gabriel then asked the pertinent question, similarly with Latheefa: “Who is responsible now for Altantuya’s death?”
“The verdict this morning calls for nothing short of full and fresh investigations into Altantuya’s death .
“Only an independent inquiry will suffice as Malaysians have lost faith in the justice system of the country,” she said, adding that Suaram also asks if Altantuya’s brutal murder was linked to the corruption allegations in the Scorpene deal.
Altantuya was brutally murdered with military explosive C4 in 2006 when she came to Malaysia with her two companions.
She was claimed to be on intimate terms with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his confidant Abdul Razak Baginda and her visit to Malaysia was linked to her demand for commissions in helping Malaysia’s government to secure two French-made Scorpene submarine.
The late private investigator P Balasubramaniam had made a statutory declaration (SD) claiming that Najib was linked to the Altantuya’s murder. He had then retracted the SD, only to backtrack again before his sudden death earlier this year.
Sirul and Azilah were members of elite Unit Tindakan Khas (police’s special action force) and were assigned to be Najib’s bodyguards. They were found guilty for murder and sentenced to death in 2009.
‘The duo may run to overseas’
Meanwhile, Balasubramaniam’s lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu said he was “shocked and speechless” at the verdict.
“I thought the Court of Appeal will declare a mistrial and order the duo to be retried,” he said.
He nevertheless said the evidence was abundant for the court to overturn the previous verdict, as they could not establish a link between jewellery found in Azirul’s belonging to the one worn by Altanuya.“Besides, a closed-circuit television footage showing Sirul’s Suzuki Vitara was at a government building,” he said.
“Based on the evidence available to public, they must have decided as ordered by their superiors,” he said.
When asked about the future prospect of the case, he said he did not rule out a possibility of the duo escaping from the country by the time the prosecution appeals to the Federal Court.
“They are being released, by the time the case is brought to the Federal Court, they may not be in the country anymore, who knows? It may just be an academic exercise,” he said.
Independent inquiry into prosecution’s conduct
DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo meanwhile called for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the prosecution in the Altantuya case.
He said that the Attorney General and his team ought to have known that about the risk of not calling in an important witness.
“They have, one would assume, vast experience in handling cases like these and they know for a fact that they would run a serious risk of having their case thrown out for failure of calling these important witnesses.
“So why did they choose to take the risk, which has now come to serve as one of the reasons for the collapse of their case?
“Many questions have arisen. Of the most serious is concern over whether or not there has been proper investigations and a proper presentation of evidence in court,” he said.
Discharged and acquitted
This morning the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted Azilah and Sirul Azhar the charge of murdering Altantuya seven years ago.
The court unanimously set aside the death sentence imposed by the Shah Alam High Court after allowing their appeal on conviction and sentence.
In a 4-page summary judgment, the court ruled that the High Court Judge had misdirected himself in convicting them.
The duo were convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court in 2009, for murdering Altantuya, 28, at Mukim Bukit Raja in Shah Alam between 10pm on Oct 19, and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.
Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 50, who was charged with abetting them, was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008 after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.