Altantuya’s family should be allowed access to witness statements, Court of Appeal hears

PUTRAJAYA : The family of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was murdered in 2006, should be allowed to obtain statements recorded from those who were investigated by the police in connection with the case to be used in their civil suit, the Court of Appeal here heard today (July 26).

Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo appearing for Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev, his wife and their grandson submitted that the disclosure of documents sought by the family was in pursuit of their rights arising from her death.

She said the documents were in relation to an investigation in which the criminal trial had concluded, adding that there is no possibility of tampering with witnesses.

Sangeet said the statements under Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code sought by the family were not privileged documents.

Sangeet argued that the High Court judge had erred when he ruled that the statements sought by Altantuya’s family were protected under Section 124 of the Evidence Act 1950 and that public confidence in investigative agencies would be undermined if such disclosure was granted.

The family of Altantuya — Shaariibuu, Altantsetseg Sanjaa and their grandson, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal are appealing against the High Court’s dismissal of their application to obtain the statements recorded from those who were investigated by the police in the criminal case in connection with the case, to be used in their civil suit.

They had filed a RM100 million civil lawsuit against two former policemen, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the Malaysian government on June 4, 2007, seeking exemplary and aggravated damages.

Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo appearing for Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev (pic), his wife and their grandson submitted that the disclosure of documents sought by the family was in pursuit of their rights arising from her death. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo appearing for Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev (pic), his wife and their grandson submitted that the disclosure of documents sought by the family was in pursuit of their rights arising from her death. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

In their statement of claim, they alleged that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental shock and psychological trauma, entitling them to be compensated.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar were found guilty by the Shah Alam High Court in 2009 for Altantuya’s murder while Abdul Razak, who was charged with conspiring with Azilah and Sirul Azhar to kill the woman, was acquitted of the charge in Oct 2008 without having to enter his defence.

On August 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed Azilah and Sirul Azhar’s appeal and acquitted them of the charge but their acquittal was overturned by the Federal Court on January 13, 2015, following the prosecution’s appeal.

In today’s appeal proceedings conducted online, a three-member panel comprising Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin, Datuk Supang Lian and Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya heard the appeal.

After hearing submissions from Sangeet and senior federal counsel Lim Yu Vynn, who appeared for the government, the court panel deferred its decision to a date to be fixed.

“We require time to consider the submissions and the new case laws that were submitted,” said Justice Nor Bee, adding that the court would notify parties of the decision date.

Earlier in the appeal proceedings, Lim argued that the appellants (Altantuya’s family) have not shown the relevancy of requiring the documents to be disclosed in the suit.

He said the documents sought by the appellants were very general and wide in nature, adding that they should specify which witness statement they were seeking.

BERNAMA / MALAY MAIL

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