Altantuya murder trial: Sirul Azhar fails to turn up in court, said to be in Australia

Sirul Azhar’s lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin (pic) speaks to the media at the Federal court, January 13, 2015. ― Reuters pic
Sirul Azhar’s lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin (pic) speaks to the media at the Federal court, January 13, 2015. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 ― Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, one of two policemen facing the gallows following the Federal Court's decision today to overturn their acquittal over the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, is abroad, believed to be in Australia, according to a source.

Sirul Azhar was not present when the Federal Court delivered its judgement.   

According to the source, Sirul Azhar knew the court would be delivering its judgement today but did not have enough money to return to Malaysia.

The source said he went abroad two months ago and when asked by Bernama whether his no-show was because he had anticipated the verdict, the source's reply was: “It (verdict) is not something that can be expected but however it was necessary for Sirul Azhar to be overseas.”

Federal Court Judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar, who read out the judgement, said the court set aside the acquittal of Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 38, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 43, for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu and restored the decision of the Shah Alam High Court which had found them guilty of the murder and sentenced them to death.

In a unanimous decision, the court allowed the prosecution's appeal to set aside the Court of Appeal's decision acquitting the two policemen.

The appeal panel was chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria. The other judges were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong and Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop.

Justice Suriyadi said that after perusing the evidence adduced in court, the two policemen had failed to cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case.

Justice Arifin issued a warrant of arrest for Sirul Azhar following Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah requesting it.  Azilah was brought to prison.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar had been charged with the murder of Altantuya, 28, in Mukim Bukit Raja in Shah Alam between 10 pm on October 19 and 1 am the following day in 2006.

The Court of Appeal had on Aug 23, 2013, allowed the appeal brought by the two police commandos to set aside the 2009 Shah Alam High Court decision finding them guilty of murdering her and sentenced them to death.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 51, who was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul Azhar, was acquitted by the High Court on October 31, 2008, after it (the high court) held that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against him. The prosecution did not appeal against his acquittal. ― Bernama