Monday, March 1

Azilah fails in review bid to set aside conviction, death sentence

0

Najib (centre) arrives at the court. — Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court yesterday dismissed a review application by a former member of the police Special Action Unit (UTK) Azilah Hadri to set aside his conviction and death sentence for the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.

A five-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed said the so-called new evidence which Azilah sought to adduce, was deliberately suppressed by the applicant himself (Azilah).

“He, himself withheld the so-called evidence from the police, his lawyers and the courts,” he said adding that further evidence in the Statutory Declaration which Azilah affirmed involved admission by him on the alleged instruction by a third party to conduct the murder.

“Now, it must be emphasised that he (Azilah) kept silent about this so-called new evidence during investigations, during his trial at the High Court and appeal at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court,” he said.

Justice Azahar said the introduction of the so-called new evidence was not in accordance with the established legal principles, adding that the court was of the view that on the face of the records, it has not been shown there was injustice in the case.

The judge said there were no grounds to show that there was a breach of natural justice or miscarriage of justice.

Justice Azahar who presided with Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Puan Sri Zaleha Yusof and Datuk Zabariah Yusof, said that there were no exceptional circumstances for a review under Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995.

Following the dismissal of his review application, Azilah has only one option left that is to seek a royal pardon from the Sultan of Selangor.

Earlier, the same panel also dismissed former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s application to intervene in Azilah’s review, ruling that he (Najib) would not be affected by any order made by the court in the review application.

Justice Azahar, however, said Najib’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was at liberty to appear before the court to hold a watching brief for Najib in the review.

Justice Azahar said it was the court’s view that the proposed intervener’s (Najib) legal right and interest were not related or connected to the subject matter of the review application.

“It’s our opinion that the parties to the review application namely the public prosecutor and Azilah are both able to assist the court in respect of the review application,” he said.

Azilah, 43, was seeking to set aside his conviction and death sentence imposed by the Federal Court on Jan 13, 2015, and an order for a retrial.

He filed his review application on Dec 5 last year together with his 32-page statutory declaration which he claimed that the order to kill Altantuya had come from Najib who was the then deputy prime minister.

Najib denied the allegations and applied to intervene.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar Umar, 48, another former UTK officer, were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court in 2009 for Altantuya’s murder at Mukim Bukit Raja in Shah Alam between 10 pm on Oct 19 and 1 am the following day in 2006.

The duo won their appeal in the Court of Appeal and was given a discharge and an acquittal but in 2015, the Federal Court overturned their acquittal and restored the High Court’s decision to find them guilty for the offence.

Azilah has been on death row in Kajang Prison since then while Sirul Azhar did not show up in court yesterday as he has been in a detention centre in Australia after he fled to that country in 2014 while on bail.

Azilah, who wore a white T-shirt and trousers, was seen giving a kiss on the cheek of a family member who was present in court after the conclusion of his case.

Najib was also present in the proceedings before leaving for Parliament.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Shafee, when met outside the court said they are considering applying for Azilah’s SD to be expunged.

He also said the court’s decision yesterday has no impact on Najib as the Altantuya murder case that went through the police and the courts did not implicate him (Najib). — Bernama