First, we would like to congratulate the PH government for finally imposing a moratorium on hangings in the country with a view to abolish the death penalty in the next parliamentary seating. We have been calling for the abolition of the death penalty ever since Suaram was founded in 1989.
There is no better time for our country to abolish the death penalty than the present predicament we face in trying to extradite Sirul, one of the convicted murderers of Altantuya from Australia. Since the Australian government cannot bring itself to return someone to Malaysia where he will be facing the death penalty, the just and reasonable thing to do is to abolish the death penalty so that this other convicted killer of Altantuya can be extradited back to face justice in our country.
Need for a retrial in the Altantuya case
There is also no better time to reopen the Altantuya murder case since the previous Prime Minister Najib Razak has been daring the PH government to re-open the Altantuya murder case among other unresolved murder cases.
Let us not forget that on 19 January 2007 during the Altantuya murder case, the High Court judge found the events in Abdul Razak Baginda’s affidavit suggested his involvement in the murder of his Mongolian lover Altantuya Shariibuu. While throwing out Razak’s bail application, Justice K.N. Segara said:
“The events clearly showed that there were enough grounds to prove that he abetted in the murder allegedly committed by two police personnel…Money was the real issue. He had Gurkhas and police friends to help him.” (Star, 20.1.2007)
In his affidavit, Baginda claimed he had had meetings with police officers Deputy Supt Musa Safri and C/Insp Azilah Hadri days before his mistress’ death. During the trial, his counsel Wong Kian Kheong read out the events on the morning of 18 October 2006 when Chief Insp Azilah called Razak and told him that he had killed six or more people before and therefore could help stop the harassment by Altantuya. This caused Justice Segara to interject:
“You have got here a person who claims that he had killed before and he can settle your problem…And what is your problem? You were threatened by a woman and you wanted her out of sight. Period. Yet, you go on dealing with that police officer.
“The whole thing is here. He called the person to get rid of her. No need to go any further in relation to abetment. The police officer is no longer helping him as police. He is there in his personal capacity. This particular episode has fleshed the entire abetment act.” (ibid)
Thus, apart from the murder of Altantuya, aren’t the Malaysian police and the Home Ministry interested in finding out who these six or more murder victims of Azilah are?
Inconsistencies surrounding the Altantuya murder case
Baginda, accused of having ordered the murder, was acquitted in November 2008. He was acquitted without his defence being called while the two policemen charged, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Omar, were sentenced to the gallows for killing her. After the verdict was made known, the government announced it would not be appealing against the Razak Baginda acquittal.
Murder accused Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar said he had been made a scapegoat by certain parties in the murder of Altantuya to protect their “evil plan”. The trial was deemed questionable by many observers. Apart from painstaking attempts to keep then Deputy Prime Minister Najib’s name from being mentioned in the trial and probing the motive for the murder, other irregularities included: the sudden removal of the presiding judge just before the trial started without a plausible explanation to the lawyers; the changing of the head of the prosecution team at the last moment; the changing of the defence lawyers for the accused, one alleging interference by “third parties” in his work.
In the case of the two convicted murderers of Altantuya, I don’t think full justice has been done to Altantuya since the motive for her murder was never established by the court. If the death penalty is carried out, we will never know the full story of why they murdered the woman; whether she was connected with the purchase of the RM7 billion Scorpene submarines or if they were induced by people in power to murder her.
No pardons for murderers please
Former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted of murdering Altantuya has said he is willing to reveal what happened in the case if he is given a full pardon to return to Malaysia.
Suaram says, unless Sirul can prove that he was NOT one of Altantuya’s murderers, he should not be pardoned if justice is to be done for Altantuya. However, if he will spill the beans over the whole beastly affair including his claim to have killed others before the Altantuya murder and show genuine remorse, there might be the possibility of plea bargaining in exchange for a shorter sentence.
Kua Kia Soong is the adviser to Suaram.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.