Sunday, November 19, 2006

Altantuya Murder Case: Abdul Razak Baginda's Trial Starts (11/23/06) - How Will It End?

In the NST today.

The case of a political analyst charged with abetting two policemen in the murder of a Mongolian woman will be transferred to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur starting 23rd November.

The case would be heard before judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Musa, the most senior criminal High Court judge in Kuala Lumpur.

On Thursday, Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, was charged with abetting two policemen in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. In the afternoon, after Razak was charged at the magistrate’s court, the High Court registry approved the transfer of the case.

Razak, from Damansara Heights, was charged with abetting Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar in the murder of Altantuya between 9.54am and 11.05am on Oct 18 at the 10th Floor of Bangunan Getah Asli, at No 148, Jalan Ampang.

The policemen were charged with murder on Wednesday. All three face the death sentence upon conviction.

Razak was represented by Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and M. Puravalen.

Azilah, 30, and Sirul, 35, were jointly charged at the Shah Alam magistrate’s court with murdering Altantuya between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735, Bukit Raja, in the Petaling district, between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20.

They were represented by Shaun Tan Kee Shaan.

The prosecution team of DPPs Salehuddin Saidin and Noorin Badaruddin is likely to make an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to have Razak’s case transferred to Shah Alam so that he can be jointly tried with Azilah and Sirul.

Altantuya’s case had created a media frenzy for the past two weeks, after it was reported that she was shot before her body was blown to bits using explosives.

Her bone fragments were found in a jungle clearing near Puncak Alam in Shah Alam.

***** There has of course been a lot of speculation (there always is when any high profile trial is on) about the 'connection' between Razak and the Deputy Prime Minister Najib. Things were not helped by the outburst of Razak's wife who is reported to have said "My husband is innocent. My husband is a good man. He supported me, and protected me, why are you writing all these stories about him?

"He is not out to become the prime minister. Why are they doing this to him?" Mazlinda repeatedly said her husband had not killed Altantuya and that others had done it. "Why put it on my husband? How could you all do this to him?" she asked, adding that the media was sensationalising the case for profit.

That is quite a damning statement and leaves the door open for more speculation. Remember that Malaysia is a country where rumour mongering is a national pastime. There have been stories in the past which have lately been resurrected about this or that VIP or minister having abetted murder of lovers/girlfriends etc and have never been caught or charged. Even a well publicized case like that of a former Chief Minister accused of raping a fifteen year old girl was hushed up and the prosecution rendered impotent by executive fiat.

So be prepared for anything and everything as this no holds barred case comes up in court next week. To be kept in mind is the fact that Razak is represented by one of the best lawyers in the nation, Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

As for public opinion in Malaysia it looks like most people are divided, and either believe that although Razak didn't actually commit the murder he did actively sanction it, or that some sinister forces are at play and Razak may be just a victim of a botched plan for getting rid of the model. I suppose ultimately it will come down to culpability and which way the court leans on this argument will be pivotal. All said, a very tumultuous and exciting period lies ahead for the judicial world here.

This blog will endeavor to bring the news and views as it comes in.

UPDATE 11/23/06. News just in: Abdul Razak Baginda has pleaded not guilty at a High Court in Kuala Lumpur today to a charge of abetment in the murder of model Altantuya Shaariibu. The KL High Court also today transferred the case to the Shah Alam High Court, which will also hear the case of the two policemen. He will be back in court to face the 'abetting to murder' charge on Dec 14.

The 46 year-old head of a local think tank was charged under Section 149 of the Penal Code and read together with Section 302 of the same code which carries a mandatory death sentence upon conviction. Razak who was clad in pink long sleeved shirt and grey pants said he understood the charges when asked by the court interpreter Salha Abdul Jalal.

He was alleged to have committed the offence between 9.54 am and 11.05 am on Oct 18 at the 10th floor of Bangunan Getah Asli at Jalan Ampang. He allegedly abetted with Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30 and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, to commit the offence.

Razak, who entered the courtroom at 9.30am, was seen mumbling when Salha read the charge to him before High Court Judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Musa at about 10.20am. When he arrived at the courtroom, Razak was in tears when hugged by his mother. His wife, Mazlinda Makhzan, his only child, Rowena, and his parents were in the courtroom. Razak, however, did not show much reaction and remained calm throughout the proceeding.

M. Puravalen, one of Razak's lawyers, applied for bail on health reason under Section 388 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Puravelan said according to the medical report by Dr Nor Azleen Ayob, the emergency medical and trauma specialist at the Emergency Department of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Razak went to the hospital's emergency department on Nov 8 after complaining of chest pain and short of breath. He said medical examination revealed Razak had normal vital signs with no evidence of heart disease but had acute bronchitis (inflammation of the chest wall).

Puravelan also tendered to the court a medical report by Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran, Kuala Lumpur Hospital's Senior Pulmonary Consultant, which states that Razak, who was admitted to the hospital, is now stable and can be brought out to facilitate police investigations. However, Puravelan pointed out that Dr Jeyaindran in his report had said that Razak was not fit to be discharged from hospital and had to be brought back to the hospital as soon as possible if at any time his condition becomes unsustainable.

In his bail application, Puravelan also cited the case of Datuk Balwant Singh, who was released on RM500,000 bail pending his murder trial on 2002.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Salehuddin Saidin, objecting to the bail application on grounds that the offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence, upon conviction, is a non-bailable offence. He said he was worried about Razak's attendance for the trial if the court allowed bail.

Additional reports:
1) Family performs soul prayers,

UPDATE 11/24/06:
1)
(In the NST) Shaariibuu puzzled over Abdul Razak's release.

In court yesterday, Shaariibuu Setev praised police for their quick action in solving his daughter’s murder. He was happy with the system.

But, minutes later, after the court released Abdul Razak Baginda on a RM1 million bond, Shaariibuu looked dejected.

Clearly not expecting the decision, the 56-year-old did not hide his frustrations when speaking to reporters after the court proceedings.

"I am not happy. This case has received international attention. I will take it to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, if necessary," he said through an interpreter. "Let’s see how the trial goes."

Shaariibuu was accompanied by the Honorary Consul of Mongolia Datuk Syed Abdul Rahman Alhabshi and a Mongolian interpreter.

"It was all about releasing him (Razak Baginda), about his family and his background. But I hope that justice will be served," the father said. Shaariibuu, who is the director of the Centre for Information and Education at the National University of Mongolia, said he would not stay for the trial as his wife was still recuperating from a stroke back home. "Any father will be disappointed. I should not have allowed her to come here," he said.

Last night, Shaariibuu fired his final salvo at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before boarding his plane to Ulan Bator. Still saddened his daughter’s bone remains were not released, he said: "This is a serious and brutal murder yet the law has not been clear on it." He is also upset over the way the media had been highlighting the murder case in the past few weeks. "What I had said is often misinterpreted. Whether you (media) write the wrong or the truth, only time will tell," he said.

When asked about his feelings on the upcoming murder trial, he said in a bitter tone: "The courts will judge the crime, but I hope the people of Malaysia will judge for themselves what happened."

In a separate interview through the telephone earlier yesterday, Shaariibuu, through Syed Abdul Rahman, said there seemed to be no sympathy for his daughter who was blown up with explosives. "The proceedings earlier were centred on Razak. There was no sensitivity shown towards my family. How can he be released so soon? I simply don’t understand this," he said.

Shaariibuu said he had an appointment with the Mongolian president today and would seek his advice. Shaariibuu came to Malaysia on Nov 9, two days after his daughter Altantuya’s remains were found in a jungle in Bukit Raja.

The father held a Press conference two days later, where he described his daughter as a successful businesswoman and a part-time model who owned a house and a car. He said his daughter was fluent in English, Chinese and Russian and denied allegations that his daughter was a gold-digger who had come to Malaysia to extort money from Abdul Razak. He refused to speak on Altantuya’s relationship with Abdul Razak.

Last Friday, the father and two of his nieces performed the funeral rites for Altantuya at the site where she was believed murdered. Altantuya’s remains are still at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary. Police still need them for investigations. (NST) 2) Altantuya's Father Intends To Make A Film In Tribute Of Her.
==========================================================
The Next Phase, Pre-Trial Speculation:
What Really Happened To Altantuya?

Latest Updates
(6/18/07):
Altantuya Murder Trial - Judge Refuses To Withdraw From Hearing Case.
(6/21/07): Razak Baginda Did Not Ask Me To Kill Altantuya, Says Private Investigator.
(6/22/07): Altantuya's Father Weeps In Court.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous dvmartini said...

This is how it will end....

Razak Baginda will be released. The arrested police personnel will admit to killing Altantuya, but on their own accord, not instructed by Razak.

To digress a little...latest rumour is that the 2 policemen raped Altantuya, then killed her. Blew her up so there will be no evidence of rape. Plausible..?

2:16 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

Very plausible scenario dvmartini.

2:22 PM GMT+8  
Blogger shanghaistephen said...

Actually Razak gave these 3cops a small photograph of Altantuya,from his wallet and told them to blow it up (enlarge )!
But you know the level of intelligence of our cops hmmm.....
Now thats what I think really happenedlah Malaysian.....sighhhhh !

7:39 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember Norita? Botched investigations etc etc? I foresee the same scenario over here...and case will be closed...

gedebakgedebuk

1:50 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mungkin juga kes ini dikaitkan dgn Abdul Razak Baginda utk menjatuhkan beliau sendiri atau mereka yang bersama beliau. Apa keputusan DNA anak kpd Altantuya?

9:30 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous someone who concerned said...

This is the time for us to regain the confidence of worldwide community on our Judiciary.

Don't make mistake again.

5:40 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mystique said....

This whole series sounded very dramatical to me again. There are always a few Question mark, on how exactly the investigators knew in the first place that Altantuya was being shot twice and blown up eventually? How did they managed to found her remains even before the police arrested Razak and the 2 high ranking officers? What does Razak's wife, Mazlinda trying to hint by saying "My husband is not out to become the Prime Minister"? Why is it most of the reports seemed to be misleading and eventually creates more Question mark to all concerned readers? I can't help to think that there are so many loopholes and possibly a cover up again for some public figure... and perhaps is it really true that Razak is being made the scapegoat? Time will tells and wish that Malaysia will eventually uphold justice!

12:16 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the rich and powerful will always be above the law in Malaysia.
malaysia boleh!

4:49 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can not believe what happened to shot couple times in a hea dand then blown away. it must be rape case and they tried to cover up by killing her. Truth will always win and them who committed this horrible horrible crime it is time to go to hell.

I'm pretty close looking at the case hope justice will be served!!!!!!

1:13 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the first place, why is a Malaysian muslim leader in high position involved in extra-marital affairs ... isn't this itself a scandal! Come on Razak, come clean!

4:20 PM GMT+8  

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