PETALING JAYA: A senior criminal lawyer has suggested that the death sentence on two former policemen be commuted into a jail term for them to be turned crown witnesses in the murder case of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Speaking to FMT, Gurbachan Singh said prosecutors could reopen the case to bring justice to the “unseen hands” responsible for other crimes including murder and abetment.
“But first, the Selangor Pardons Board should grant them clemency to cooperate with prosecutors in order to give justice to Altantuya’s family,” he said, referring to former police officers Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri.
Responding to the call by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim for Sirul to face a new trial, the lawyer added that convicted persons could not be retried for the same crime.
Sirul, who fled Malaysia after being sentenced to death in 2009 for the killing of Altantuya, is now in Australian custody. He previously claimed he had been ordered by “important people” to murder Altantuya in 2006.
The Australian government will not repatriate him to Malaysia as it is against its policy to impose capital punishment on those convicted for serious crimes.
Azilah meanwhile is on death row in the Kajang prison pending a decision by the pardons board to commute the capital punishment to a jail term.
Altantuya was the lover of Abdul Razak Baginda – a former close associate of now-deposed prime minister Najib Razak – who was accused of arranging kickbacks for the purchase of French submarines in 2002.
Abdul Razak, who is said to have abetted in the crime, was acquitted without his defence called. The government did not appeal.
Sirul and Azilah were initially freed by the Court of Appeal in 2013, causing the government to take the case to the Federal Court. The Federal Court in 2015 set aside the acquittal and affirmed the original findings of the High Court.
Gurbachan said police should also investigate the role played by Deputy Supt Musa Safri, a former aide de camp of Najib, who was not called to give evidence.
The Federal Court in its judgment had held that his testimony could not have helped in the defence of Azilah and Sirul.
In an 88-page judgment, Suriyadi Halim Omar said: “It (Musa’s testimony) is only useful to Abdul Razak (Baginda). It merely confirmed evidence adduced from Altantuya’s cousin and friend that he had a relationship with the deceased.”