Altantuya case: Sirul says he is a scapegoat

(The Star) – Murder accused Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar said he has been made a scapegoat by certain parties in the murder of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu to protect their “evil” plan.

Kpl Sirul, 36, whose voice faltered, choked by emotion, said their actions were merely to get him convicted for the 28-year-old translator’s murder.

“I am like a scapegoat that has to be sacrificed by them, those who are not in this court, to face the consequences of their actions and plan,” the father of one said when making a statement for an hour from the dock on Wedensday.

The driver had chosen to testify from the dock in his defence.

Kpl Sirul said he had observed, during the murder trial proceedings, how several main prosecution witnesses, especially D9 (serious crime division) policemen from city police contingent had fabricated stories.

“They did not tell the truth and always changed their stories when they were cross-examined (over her murder),” said Kpl Sirul who was clad in a black shirt, dark pants and a black coat.

He stressed to High Court judge Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin that he did not know Altantuya and had no private dealings with her.

“I have no reason to injure her, what more to take her life in such a brutal manner,” the divorcee said.

Kpl Sirul and fellow Unit Tindakan Khas operative C/Insp Azilah Hadri, 32, had claimed trial to murdering the Mongolian woman between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006 at Mukim Bukit Raja.

The two were ordered on Oct 31 last year to enter their defence. C/Insp Azilah had given his evidence under oath.

Kpl Sirul said he also did not know political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and had no undertaking with him.

“I beg this court, which has the power to determine my life or death, please do not punish me and complete their plan against me,” he said while reading out his 15-page typed-written statement with his signature.

After reading the last page of his statement, he bowed to the judge and sat down. He immediately asked his friend to pass to him a tissue to wipe his tears.

Those seated in the public gallery, especially his family members, were also in tears. Last October, Abdul Razak was acquitted without his defence being called of abetment in her murder.

At the outset, Kpl Sirul said C/Insp Azilah had called him on Oct 18, 2006 and asked to meet him up later.

After meeting him at 2pm that same day, Kpl Sirul said C/Insp Azilah had asked him to drive him around Kuala Lumpur to find the location of a hotel.

“When we failed to locate the hotel, Azilah instruct me to drive to Damansara. I asked Azilah what is the purpose of finding out about the hotel and the journey to Damansara?

“Azilah told me that he had a job to do and asked me to just follow him,” he said.

On the journey to Damansara, he said C/Insp Azilah told him that a minister’s aide-de-camp DSP Musa Mohd Safri had told him that his (DSP Musa’s) friend was facing a “woman problem”.

“Azilah asked me to drive to the house of DSP Musa’s friend at Bukit Damansara. Azilah said DSP Musa’s friend held a high position, was a businessman and rich but did not reveal his identity,” he said.

He said C/Insp Azilah told him that a Chinese woman and a man, believed to be her brother, had disturbed DSP Musa’s friend and created chaos in front of his house.

He said Azilah told him that the Chinese woman was a former lover of DSP Musa’s friend.

“Azilah asked if I was willing to patrol his (DSP Musa’s friend) house area from time to time if he was called away on official duty outside the city.

“I agreed to do so as I know DSP Musa and I looked at this job as assistance requested by DSP Musa, who is also my superior,” he said.

He also said that on Nov 5, 2006, he was on private escort duty to the Prime Minister at a conference room at Islamabad, Pakistan, when he was asked to go to a room to prepare food for a Datuk.

“I went to the room and found that my colleague was getting ready for a work change. I gave my pistol to my colleague and was resting in his room while waiting to get further orders to prepare the food.

“Shortly later, someone knocked on the room door and I found a senior policeman and two UTK officials standing there.

“The senior officer directed me to return to Malaysia on grounds that my former wife had lodged a police report against me and I had to get back to settle the problem,” he said with his voice breaking.

He said he took a flight back to Malaysia with the team and was taken back to city police contingent for questioning upon arrival at KLIA on Nov 6.

He said he was brought to a magistrate’s court on Nov 7 to be remanded.

After that, he said, he was taken to a senior police official office in handcuffs and was not cautioned during the interrogation.

“The officer asked me to tell the truth and that they would assist me as I was a staff member and that the matter would not be brought to court. I just remained silent,” he said.

At one point, he said the senior policeman had raised his voice and told him not to let him treat him like other accused persons.

“I was scared that he would beat me,” he said.

He said he was later taken to his house and ordered to hold certain things while his photographs were taken.

The judge set Feb 16 for submissions after the defence closed their case Wednesday.

His lawyer Hasnal Rezua Merican and Azilah’s lawyer Datuk Hazman Ahmad told the judge that they would not be calling more witnesses.