Appeals court allows Altantuya’s family access to police statements in murder case

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The court ruled that the statements were relevant to the family’s civil suit in the unlawful killing and should be handed over within 14 days.

Bernama

The Putrajaya Court of Appeal today allowed the family of slain Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu’s appeal to obtain recorded statements by the police of witnesses who were either called or not called during the criminal trial.

A three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin unanimously ruled that these police statements used in the criminal trial are not privileged documents which should have been kept away from the public for civil cases.

“We order that these Section 112 statements recorded by the police be made available to the family’s lawyers within two weeks from today,” said Justice Nor Bee, adding that the court made no order as to costs.

“The bench ruled that the statements are relevant to the family’s civil suit in the unlawful killing,” lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo said, adding the documents should be handed over within 14 days.

This included statements recorded from political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and former policemen Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri, the defendants in the ongoing civil proceedings.

The other judges were Supang Lian and Mariana Yahya.

Sangeet said the bench also ruled that tampering of witnesses did not arise as the criminal trial was concluded a long time ago.

The bench ruled that the recorded statements by the police were relevant to assist the claimants in the trial as some of the witnesses — who either had been called or not called — had either passed away or could not recall what transpired.

“The police investigations into the case had long concluded as stipulated via a statement by the police on Aug 20, 2018,” she said.

“These [recorded statements by the police] are not privileged documents as the case happened a long time ago and as long as it is relevant to the subject [matter of the civil suit], they can be released,” the court added.

Last year, Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, who is the trial judge in the civil case, dismissed the application, saying that the statements had been taken in confidence and for the purpose of the criminal trial.

Altantuya’s father, Setev, his wife, Altantsetseg Sanjaa, and Altantuya’s son, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal, had named Razak, the government, Sirul and Azilah as defendants in their suit.

Alleging conspiracy in Altantuya’s murder, they are seeking RM100 million in damages, including dependency claims.

At least 10 witnesses for Altantuya’s family have given evidence in the case which began in January 2019. The case will continue on Jan 11.

The Federal Court in 2015 restored the High Court verdict that found Sirul and Azilah were responsible for the murder of Altantuya, who was described as an interpreter.

Razak, who was charged with abetment in the murder, was freed at the end of the prosecution’s case. The court ruled that the charge against him was not proven and the government did not appeal, a move that drew public condemnation.

Neither Sirul, who is being held at an Australian detention centre, nor Azilah, who is on death row at Kajang prison, have challenged the suit.