SHAH ALAM, 10 Nov 2008: Two police commandos, Chief Insp Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, will have to wait until 15 Jan next year to make their defence in the High Court here on a charge of murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
This is because their respective counsel, Datuk Hazman Ahmad and Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, were unable to locate and interview witnesses whom they planned to call.
Justice Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin allowed their applications for two months’ grace to prepare their cases.
“I want this case to be tried continuously from 15 Jan until the end,” he said.
Azilah, 32, and Sirul Azhar, 36, both from the Special Action Squad (UTK), were supposed to make their defence today on a charge of murdering Altantuya, 28, in Mukim Bukit Raja between 10pm on 19 Oct 2006 and 1am the following day.
Political analyst Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, 48, who was charged with abetting them in the Federal Territory between 9.54am on 18 Oct 2006 and 9.45pm the following day, was acquitted and discharged on 31 Oct without his defence being called.
In his application today, Hazman said he could not decide who to call to testify because he could not interview the witnesses as some of them were not in Kuala Lumpur.
He said he was also pressed for time to settle all his other pending trials from 2003 to 2006, which had been put on hold to give way to Altantuya’s trial, as the presiding judges were getting impatient and had disallowed postponements.
“The prosecution has taken a year and a half to prosecute this case. We must also be given space and time to prepare the defence,” he said.
Kamarul Hisham also requested the court for more time to get hold of blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin and private investigator P Balasubramaniam whom he intended to call as witnesses.
“I have written a letter to his solicitor on 21 Oct, but there was no response from Raja Petra’s lawyers. We have also sent messages to the lawyers and the law firm, we have yet to receive a reply,” he said.
Raja Petra, who was recently released from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, had made a statutory declaration linking a top politician and his wife to the murder.
Balasubramaniam had also made a similar statutory declaration but retracted it three days later in another sworn statement.
Kamarul Hisham said he was informed by the prosecution that investigating officer Tonny Anak Lunggan could not locate Bala’s whereabouts and this matter was confirmed by deputy public prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah.
Tun Majid, meanwhile, said he had no objections to the postponement, but notified the court that he would raise an objection under section 136 of the Evidence Act pursuant to the defence’s intention to recall some of the prosecution witnesses, including Balasubramaniam.
Outside the court, Hazman told the media that he planned to call nine witnesses, including an expert in telecommunications and Azilah’s girlfriend. — Bernama