Possible scenarios in Altantuya murder review bid

Former policemen Azilah Hadri (black shirt) and Sirul Azhar Umar (white shirt) exit a police van at the High Court in Shah Alam in April 2009. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Lawyers say several possibilities arise from the review application filed by former policeman Azilah Hadri who wants his conviction for the murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu set aside.

They said Azilah’s matter before the Federal Court was made more intriguing as he had attached a sworn statement that it was ex-prime minister Najib Razak who had directed the “shoot to kill” of Altantuya.

“However, the burden is on Azilah to justify why the court must invoke its inherent jurisdiction (under Rule 137 of the Federal Court Rules) to review the case,” lawyer Baljit Sidhu said.

He was responding to Azilah’s application to the Federal Court to set aside the 2015 conviction and order a retrial.

The lawyer said Rule 137 was relied on to prevent injustice or abuse of court process, and that Azilah must show that the evidence in the statutory declaration (SD) was not available during trial in the High Court.

“If he succeeds, then a retrial could be ordered, otherwise the judgment of the Federal Court remains,” he said.

If the judgment remains, Baljit said Azilah’s final option is to get a royal pardon from the sultan of Selangor to escape the gallows.

Lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al Mahdzar meanwhile said if the apex court were to allow Azilah’s application and order a retrial in the High Court, the prosecution would have to recall its witnesses to prove the murder charge against Azilah.

“But the public prosecutor could also withdraw the charge as he is allowed to do so under the Federal Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said.

Another lawyer, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, said the SD could now be the basis for police to conduct fresh investigations into the murder of Altantuya.

“The police can kick-start investigations and they can question personalities identified in the SD. I believe they will first question Azilah,” he said.

Rafique said a cursory reading of the SD revealed the potential offence of abetment or concealing a design to commit an offence, which is punishable with death or life imprisonment.

“A probe for the offence of criminal conspiracy cannot be ruled out,” he added.

The lawyer said the public prosecutor could also make Azilah its witness if others are charged in connection with the murder of Altantuya.

Azilah, who was convicted together with former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar, said among others that Abdul Razak Baginda, Altantuya’s former lover who was acquitted of her murder, and senior police officer Musa Safri, were aware of the “instructions” from Najib.

Azilah and Sirul were sentenced to death nine years after Altantuya was killed in a forest near Shah Alam and her body blown up with explosives.