Govt wants Federal Court to determine four legal questions in lawsuit by Altantuya’s family

Dr Shaariibuu Setev arrives at the Shah Alam Hight Court January 22, 2019. ― Picture  by Yusof Mat Isa
Dr Shaariibuu Setev arrives at the Shah Alam Hight Court January 22, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 20 — The government wants the Federal Court to determine the legal question of whether it (the government) will be liable in tort under the Government Proceedings Act 1956 when a public officer commits the offence of murder.

Head of the Appellate and Trial Division in the Attorney General’s Chambers, Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman today urged the Federal Court to grant the government leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to reinstate it (the government) as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the family of deceased Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

He sought the court to determine four questions of law which were novel questions regarding the government’s vicarious liability for the murder committed by its agents or employees.

The questions are: 

  • Whether the government is liable in tort under Section 5 of the Government Proceedings Act 1956 when a public officer commits the offence of murder?
  • Whether murder is a cause of action under Section 7 (1) of the Civil Law Act 1956?
  • Whether the prosecution of the offence of murder by the public officer in a criminal court will render the government liable under Section 7 of the Civil Law Act?
  • Whether murder is a tort?

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, representing Altantuya’s parents and her two sons, objected to the leave to appeal application, saying the legal questions were not novel.

He said the government was vicariously liable as at the time, the two policemen were agents of the government when they committed the murder.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah who chaired the Federal Court bench with Federal Court judges Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, adjourned the matter to August 22.

Shaariibuu Setev, his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and Altantuya’s two sons, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, filed the suit on June 4, 2007, claiming that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental and psychological trauma.

They had named two police officers, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the government as defendants in the suit.

In the statement of claim, the family alleged conspiracy in Altantuya’s murder and was seeking damages, including dependency claims.

Abdul Razak was charged with conspiring with Azilah and Sirul Azhar to kill Altantuya, 28, in 2006, but he was acquitted of the charge in October 2008 without having to enter his defence, while Azilah and Sirul Azhar were found guilty in 2009.

On August 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed Azilah and Sirul Azhar’s appeal and acquitted them of the charge but their acquittal was overturned by the Federal Court on January 13, 2015, following the prosecution’s appeal.

On August 23, 2017, the Shah Alam High Court allowed the government’s application to strike out the suit but the appellate court reversed that decision on March 14, last year, thereby reinstating the government as a party to the suit. — Bernama

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