Court to discuss vicarious liability in Altantuya suit

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has set Sept 4 for counsel representing the government and the family of a murdered Mongolian model to further address the issue of vicarious liability in a lawsuit brought by the family.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah, chairing a three-member bench, said the parties agreed to the date to resume the hearing. Presiding with him were Federal Court judges Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Nallini Pathmanathan.

Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, representing the family of the model, Altantuya Shaariibuu, told reporters that the court wanted the counsel to address the legal issue relating to the vicarious liability of the government.

On Tuesday, the bench heard the government’s application for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision in reinstating it as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by Altantuya’s family and adjourned the matter to today.

Altantuya Shaariibuu

The government formulated four legal questions for determination by the Federal Court, including a question on whether the government could be vicariously liable for the unlawful act of murder by its employees.

Shaariibuu Setev, his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and Altantuya’s two sons, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, filed the suit on June 4, 2007, claiming that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental and psychological trauma.

They named two police officers – Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar – and political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda as well as the government as the defendants.

In the statement of claim, the family alleged conspiracy in Altantuya’s murder and is seeking damages, including dependency claims.

Razak was charged with conspiring with Azilah and Sirul Azhar to kill Altantuya, 28, in 2006, but he was acquitted of the charge in October 2008 without having to enter his defence while Azilah and Sirul were found guilty in 2009.

On Aug 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals of Azilah and Sirul and acquitted them of the charge but their acquittal was overturned by the Federal Court on Jan 13, 2015, following an appeal by the prosecution.

On Aug 23, 2017, the Shah Alam High Court allowed the government’s application to strike out the suit but the appellate court reversed that decision on March 14 last year, thereby reinstating the government as a party to the suit.

A team of senior federal counsel, led by the head of the Appellate and Trial Division in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman, appeared for the government.