Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Former police commando files appeal against conviction

The Court of Appeal has allowed former Special Action Squad personnel Sirul Azhar Umar's application to include two additional grounds in his petition of appeal to set aside his conviction for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The grounds for consideration was that the proceedings before the High Court was a mistrial due to adverse publicity and that the trial judge could have been biased due to the publicity.

A three-man bench chaired by Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali allowed the application after Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Tun Majid Tun Hamzah did not raise any objection.

Last week Sirul's lawyers filed a notice of motion at the Court of Appeal registry in an attempt to include additional grounds of appeal.

In the application, Sirul claimed that he was subjected to extensive "adverse publicity" during the trial which was misleading and prejudicial to him, thus denying him a fair hearing.

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He is seeking for the Court of Appeal to declare the trial a mistrial, his conviction be set aside and he be set free.

However, the appeal which was fixed for three days from yesterday was adjourned following an application as the appeal records were incomplete. Apandi then adjourned the appeal to June 24.

Kamarul told the court yesterday that one of the necessary evidence, an application by lawyer Karpal Singh during trial, was not in the record of appeal.

Karpal, who was holding a watching brief for Altantuya’s family and the Mongolian government, had on July 21, 2008, filed an application under Section 425 of the Criminal Procedure Code to recall prosecution witness P. Balasubramaniam and several others to the stand.

Karpal had also enclosed two statutory declarations affirmed by Balasubramiam, who died of heart attack last March.

"The notes of proceedings on Karpal's application will help in this appeal," said Kamarul, who added that the Court of Appeal wanted to see the notes of proceedings of Karpal's application and the ruling of the High Court.

He said the defence and the prosecution would revert to the High Court registrar to obtain the notes of proceedings and the ruling.

Sirul and former SAS chief inspector Azilah Hadri were found guilty of Altantuya’s murder. They were sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court in 2009. The application yesterday was only filed by Sirul, and was not a joint application with Azilah.

The trial heard that Altantuya was murdered at Mukim Bukit Raja in Shah Alam between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who was charged with abetment, was acquitted on Oct 31, 2008 after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

Both Sirul, 39, and Azilah, 34, were also in court yesterday. They were handcuffed and clad in white pants and shirt with red sleeves.

Both exchanged hugs with family and relatives.

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