Suit by Altantuya’s family: Court to rule on Monday on use of evidence

Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

SHAH ALAM: The High Court will rule on Monday whether the family members of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, who had filed a civil claim, could rely on evidence in a criminal trial that finally led to the conviction of two policemen for her murder.

Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said he needed time to go through the written submissions from the plaintiff and defendants.

He also tentatively fixed trial for Jan 21-31 as the suit has been long pending.

Earlier, lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, who is appearing for the family of Altantuya, submitted that the court was not barred from adopting and admitting the evidence given at the criminal trial as it was proof of facts in the current civil suit.

“The findings of the High Court are based on evidence given on oath.”

She said the two policemen — Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri — were found guilty on a higher standard of proof which was beyond reasonable doubt.

Sangeet said in the civil trial, the plaintiffs only need to prove their case on the balance of probabilities, which was of a lower standard.

“This court is entitled to rely and accept the evidence given during the criminal trial.

“But it is also for this court to test that evidence now on a balance of probabilities when deciding on the liability of the defendants,” she said.

The family wants the court to accept the evidence given in the criminal case as political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a defendant in the civil suit, wanted them to prove again the “facts already established in the criminal trial”.

Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev, his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and two grandchildren have named Sirul, Azilah, Razak and the government as defendants.

The family alleges there was conspiracy in Altantuya’s murder and is seeking RM100 million in damages, including dependency claims.

Sirul and Azilah were convicted by the High Court in 2009 of killing Altantuya, who was described as an interpreter and a model.

They succeeded in overturning their conviction at the Court of Appeal in 2013 but the Federal Court in 2015 restored their conviction and sentenced them to death.

Sirul fled to Australia before the final verdict. The Federal Court later issued a warrant of arrest for him.

Razak, who was charged with abetment in the murder, was freed at the end of the prosecution’s case.

The court ruled the charge against him was not proven and the government did not appeal, a move that drew public condemnation.

Neither Sirul, who is at present being held at an Australian detention centre, nor Azilah, who is on death row at Kajang Prison, have challenged the suit.

Their lawyers have discharged themselves in the civil claim while Razak has engaged a counsel to contest the suit.

Senior federal counsel Norina Bahadun represented the government, together with Jasmee Hameeza Jaafar, Tengku Intan Suraya Tengku Ismail and Shaiful Nizam Shahrin.

Lawyers Kuan Chee Foo and Manjeet Singh Dhillon represented Razak.