By Hafiz Yatim
In the full judgment of the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial, the presiding judge extensively describes how the Mongolian translator had threatened third accused Abdul Razak Baginda, and why the court accepted the political analyst’s affidavit as part of the evidence leading to his acquittal.
Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Md Yasin in his judgment noted that Razak’s affidavit dated Jan 5, 2007 was provided by the prosecution before it closed its case.
In his 70-page judgment obtained by Malaysiakini, Zaki classified Razak’s affidavit, which forms a major portion of the judgment, as “not part and parcel of the police investigation process” but governed under the Oaths and Affirmations Act.
Hence, the judge ruled, the affidavit provided by the prosecution must be given its due weight as was given to the rest of the evidence from the prosecution.
Initially in the trial, only portions of the affidavit were admitted as evidence, including Razak’s admission to having had a relationship with Altantuya, whom he met in November 2004.
However, the political analyst said he ended his relationship with the Mongolian woman sometime in August 2005.
Razak also stated that Altantuya demanded money from him and blackmailed him as a result of “the relationship”.
Sometime in April 2006, Razak said in his affidavit he told Altantuya that he would not bow to her blackmail as he was not afraid of an expose of their relationship.
“Furthermore, I do not want to continue paying to her. From that day onwards, she continued to harass me via phone and letter. Sometime in August 2006, she threatened to come to my office,” Razak states in his affidavit.
Altantuya was murdered sometime between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am the next day in a jungle clearing near Kuala Lumpur, at Lot 16735, Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam.
Altantuya taken away for ‘interrogation’
While Razak was acquitted, two others charged jointly with him, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, were found guilty.
Justice Zaki noted that Razak in his affidavit stated that the two police special forces officers had taken Altantuya to the police station for her to be interrogated on the fateful day.
“Now, can these parts of the said affidavit be ignored or rejected? It is my finding that in the absence of any rebuttal evidence against them, coupled with the fact that there is no legal onus that lies upon the third accused (Razak) to rebut any statutory presumptions, there is clearly, to my mind, no reason for them to be ignored and rejected,” the judge said.
Having perused the contents of the affidavit, the evidence corroborated by private investigator P Balasubramaniam, Altantuya’s cousin Burmaa Oyuchimeg, L/Cpl Rohaniza Roslan – girlfriend of the accused Azilah – and Razak’s secretary Siti Aishah Mohd Azlan have clearly negated and nullified the act of abetment as alleged against Razak, added Zaki.
“I have no reason to disagree with Razak. The averment about threat and blackmailing is corroborated by the threatening letters the deceased sent to the political analyst.
“Altantuya herself admitted to it when she wrote on a note found by Burmaa, ‘Yes maybe I did mistake to bother him to blackmail him’,” the judge said.
Razak may have motive to kill Altantuya but…
“In my view, once the essential elements of abetment that is by instigation, by conspiracy and aiding and in the context of this case, the death of Altantuya, is not proven on the basis of a prima facie evidence, any other inferences and doubts that may have arisen must be resolved as is trite in favour of the accused person.
“It is not for the court to call for the defence merely to clear or clarify such doubts. Even if Razak can be inferred as having had any motive in the light of all the blackmailing letters of the deceased, it cannot be made a basis for conviction of him without direct or circumstantial evidence of his participation in any manner in the commissioning of offence,” the judgment states.
The court also noted that Balasubramaniam (right), the private investigator hired by Razak, had also testified that Razak had no idea where Altantuya was when the private investigator had handed Altantuya over to Azilah in front of Razak’s house on the day of the murder.
Balasubramaniam had said that he met Razak at his office on Oct 20, 2006, and asked which police station Altantuya was taken to.
However, Razak asked Balasubramiam to guess for himself, and Balasubramaniam then said it could be Travers police station or the Special Branch lock-up at Jalan Ipoh, the judgment said.
Portions from Razak’s affidavit reproduced
The judge also reproduced portions of Razak’s affidavit in his judgment.
Paragraph 25: Although I appointed Balasubramaniam following the disturbance from the deceased on me and my family continued, I decided to seek additional help from DSP Musa Safri whom I knew from my dealings with the Malaysia Strategic Research Centre.
(Musa was then Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak’s chief of staff and aide-de-camp).
Paragraph 26: “I asked Musa to help put up a police box at my home, where I stayed with my family, wanting assistance from the police to send a patrol car to patrol the vicinity, and to introduce me to one of the police officers who works at IPD (police district headquarters) Brickfields.”
Paragraph27: DSP Musa informs me that he will introduce a police officer to me.
Paragraph 28: On Oct 16, 2006, Balasubramaniam suggested that Altantuya be deported from Malaysia. One Dhiren Norendra and Razak sternly rejected Balasubramaniam’s proposal.
Paragraph 29: “On the morning of Oct 17, 2006, Altantuya came to my house where she tried to meet me. Her presence was known by my wife, Mazlinda Makhzan. I was not in the house at that time.”
Paragraph 30: “On the night of Oct 17, while I was at home with my family, there was a disturbance outside the house.”
Paragraph 31: “I immediately contacted Musa, but he was uncontactable.” Razak then asked Balasubramaniam and Dhiren to help. A police patrol car arrived and resolved the commotion. “I did not lodge a police report on the first commotion.”
Paragraph 32: “Musa informed me that he found a police officer to assist and help me deal with the disturbance.”
Paragraph 33: “I met Azilah at my office and sought his help to patrol in the vicinity of my house. I gave him my house address, my father’s name, Altantuya’s name and Hotel Malaya (this is based on information given by Balasubramaniam). I also informed Azilah that Balasubramaniam is a private investigator.
“Before Azilah left my office, he asked me to inform him if Altantuya continued to disturb or cause commotion to me or my family.”
Paragraph 35: “On Oct 19, Balasubramaniam called me and informed me that there is a second commotion (caused by Altantuya) outside my house. At that time, I and my family were outside, and so I proceeded to call Azilah.”
Paragraph 37: “Balasubramaniam told me there were three plainclothes police personnel who arrived in an unmarked car and took Altantuya away. I believe the officers took Altantuya to the police station where she was interrogated.”
Paragraph 38: “On Oct 20, I went to the Deputy Prime Minister’s (Najib’s) office on an official matter and there I met Musa. In my meeting with Musa, I asked what happened following the second commotion and Musa told me that Azilah did not say anything.
“I asked Musa again several days later, either by phone or by meeting him, and Musa’s response was the same.”
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hold case management on Friday to set a date to hear the appeal filed by both Azilah and Sirul against the murder conviction.
The case has been pending for two years while awaiting the completion of the written judgment by Zaki. - Mkini