I wish to be home, says acquitted Azilah

The son of Malaysia's former police special action unit personnel Sirul Azhar Umar, Shukri Azam Shirul, is hugged by family friend as Sirul's brother Khairnizam Umar wipes his tears outside the courthouse in Putrajaya  August 23, 2013. – Reuters pic
The son of Malaysia's former police special action unit personnel Sirul Azhar Umar, Shukri Azam Shirul, is hugged by family friend as Sirul's brother Khairnizam Umar wipes his tears outside the courthouse in Putrajaya August 23, 2013. – Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 23 — Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri’s wish to live a normal life outside the prison walls after being remanded for seven years, finally came true today after the Court of Appeal disharged and acquitted him of the charge of murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Azilah, 37, who was met by Bernama before the court gave the verdict said physically, he had not changed since he was charged but spiritually he felt “too small” and wished to be home now.

Azilah, who was accompanied by prison officers during the court proceeding,

appeared to be surprised when the decision of the three-member panel led by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Mohd Apandi Ali, was read out.

Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, who was jointly charged with Azilah, however managed to utter, “Thank you, Your Honour,” before both were taken out of the dock.

Outside the courtroom, Azilah, his voice shaking, said he was grateful to Allah as his prayers had been answered.

“I am still nervous,” he said.

“I need to go back to Kajang Prison to thank those who had taken care of me

there...they took good care of me. I want to perform my Friday prayers and sort out other matters after that,” he added.

In 2009, the Shah Alam High Court convicted and sentenced to death Azilah and Sirul Azhar, who were from the police special action unit, for murdering Altantuya, 28, in Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.

Azilah’s fiancee Nor Azila Baharuddin, 35, was seen to be in tears upon hearing the Court of Appeal’s decision.

She said Allah had answered hers and their families’ prayers for Azilah to be freed one day.

Nor Azila said they got engaged in 2006 and since Azilah faced the murder charge the same year, she never gave up and visited him in prison once a week.

“I was trembling upon hearing the court’s decision. I couldn’t believe it at first, but I am really happy as this is the moment I have been waiting for. 

"Shawal this time is beautiful,” she added.

Since they were charged and on trial, Azilah and Sirul Azhar had always covered their faces when they were outside the court and only removed the cloth covering their faces when inside the courtroom.

Usually, Sirul Azhar appeared serious and preferred to be alone for much of the time, compared with Azilah who was friendly and chatty with the people around him.

However, after the court’s decision today, Sirul Azhar’s mood changed and he was seen smiling at his family members who sat behind him.

Approached by Bernama before he and Azilah were brought back to the prison for the release process, Sirul Azhar showed a friendly side and expressed his gratefulness for the outcome of the case.

“I am grateful to Allah that everything is over now. I thank my lawyers who defended me and also my family, especially my mother, who never stopped praying for me. I intend to continue leading a normal life after this,” he said.

His 13-year-old son was visibly delighted with the father’s release. The teenager who was accompanied by two family members, managed to tell his father how much be missed him.

Sirul Azhar’s uncle, Mustapha Samat from Ipoh, said since his nephew was charged with murder, he managed to attend the court hearing three times and that he had kept praying that the former would be freed.

Mustapha, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, was seen contacting his other family members to inform them of the court’s decision. – Bernama

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