Govt remains defendant in Altantuya family’s suit, apex court rules

PUTRAJAYA: The government will remain as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the family of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, after the Federal Court dismissed the government’s application to appeal against the appeals court’s decision reinstating it as a defendant in the suit.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, David Wong Dak Wah who chaired the bench, said the government had not fulfilled the requirements under Section 96 (a) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, which states that the legal questions framed must be novel questions.

He also ordered the government to pay RM5,000 in costs.

The other judges were Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Nallini Pathmanathan.

A litigant must obtain leave in order to proceed with the appeal to the Federal Court.

Senior federal counsel, Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman submitted on Aug 20 that the four legal questions framed for determination of the Federal Court were novel questions relating to the government’s liability for the act of murder committed by its agents or employees.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh had argued that the government was vicariously liable as the two policemen convicted of Altantuya’s murder were agents for the government when the crime happened.

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 police officers Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, alongside political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the government as defendants in the suit.

The family alleged conspiracy in Altantuya’s murder and was 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.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar were found guilty in 2009.

On Aug 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal acquitted them of the charge, but this was overturned by the Federal Court on Jan 13, 2015, following the prosecution’s appeal.

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.

The Shah Alam High Court has set Sept 30 for case management of the suit which had been heard partly.