Righteousness and justice

Frankly speaking, the legal system is generally Greek to many members of the public. The verdict has all the more puzzled the public and begs a question: can righteousness and justice be upheld legally? Does the acquittal of the accused uphold legal justice or reveal the impotence of prosecution?

Lim Mun Fah, Sin Chew

The two alleged suspects in Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder were acquitted after they had brought the case to the Court of Appeal. The sentence immediately sparked a chorus of controversy. But Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail informed that the prosecution would appeal, that said this 159-day trial hasn’t yet come to an end.

This trial has since aroused global attention. The reason is twofold. Firstly, Altantuya was a Mongolian beauty with a legendary and murky identity. She was reported to have come all the way from Mongolia to meet her lover in Malaysia but ended up murdered, and her remains destroyed with C4 explosives. This amorous, exciting and atrocious plot of the narrative is arresting at its best to the stalking oriented public.

Secondly, there were three influential accused initially, namely, the then defence analyst from the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre think-tank, Abdul Razak Baginda, Chief Insp Azilah Hadri and Cpl Sirul Azhar Umar.

The trial was tedious and teemed with surprises.

Abdul Razak was acquitted of abetment. Later, the other two accused were also acquitted.

This verdict, to date, has raised an uproar as well as legal controversy.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was disappointed with the verdict. To him, the Court of Appeal should have ordered to review the case and not to pronounced acquittal. Furthermore, Pakatan Rakyat officials had called for a royal commission of inquiry for further investigation to restore the reputation of our legal system.

Frankly speaking, the legal system is generally Greek to many members of the public. The verdict has all the more puzzled the public and begs a question: can righteousness and justice be upheld legally? Does the acquittal of the accused uphold legal justice or reveal the impotence of prosecution?

Most common folks are kindhearted. They tend to sympathise with Altantuya despite not knowing who she was. “A murderer must pay with his life” is their logic. When the verdict goes against their expectation, the prevailing sense of disappointment and discontentment should be understood and justified.

Different stance would result in disparate interpretation. No sentence can be made without sufficient evidence and it is to the core an uncompromising principle.

For Altantuya and her family, as long as the murderers are at large and not convicted, her apparition will always linger in the Malaysian sky.

In passing, I recalled the acquittal of Orenthal James Simpson for the alleged murder of his ex-wife and a waiter. After hearing the verdict, the waiter’s father said: “Today is not the day prosecution has lost the trial but the nation as righteousness and justice was not upheld.”

Indeed, to uphold righteousness and justice is a universal calling. It is also our expectation and hope for each and every trial. 


Was the appellate court doing the right thing?

Lam Choong Wah, TMI

The duo accused for the brutal murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu were acquitted unanimously by the Court of Appeal’s three member bench on August 23.

The news spread like shockwave across the country. Not only did the verdict disappoint many Malaysians, but it also generated countless condemnations on social media.

Who killed Altantuya? This question has flooded the social media. So if it is not former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and former corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, who else? As a result of this verdict, some people are questioning the credibility of the courts.

Contrary to public opinion, I think the three member bench had done the right thing, and their judgment could compel the prosecutors to carry out more in-depth investigation on this case.

There were several ambiguities that were pinpointed by the Court of Appeal, which should be answered by the prosecutors:

1. The whole case was full of flaws that could easily be used by the defence counsel to counter accusations made by the prosecutors. One of the best examples was the fact that the prosecutors were reluctant to investigate the intention of causing Altantuya’s death. In any culpable murder case, as defined by Section 300 of the Penal Code, proving the murder intention of the accused is a must for the prosecutors. Otherwise, the accused can only be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 of the Penal Code and punishment upon the conviction is only imprisonment.

2. The prosecutors weren’t interested to find out where the C4 explosives came from. Why were the prosecutors not interested in the most important evidence?

3. The court and prosecutors had never subpoenaed Najib Razak’s chief bodyguard DSP Musa Safri, or even Najib himself to testify. Without their testimony, one is unable to clarify whether or not the accused received any directive from other parties.

The appellate court judges pointed out that the prosecutors couldn’t convict the accused beyond reasonable doubt and that led to the case’s judgment, i.e. acquit the accused. The prosecutors have two options now, either appeal to higher court or give up.

If the authority chooses the first option, then they have to answer the doubts raised by the appellate court. In other words, they have to find out why the two police commandos killed Altantuya and more pertinently, where did C4 explosives come from?

If the prosecutors choose to give up, then they will have to be prepared to face gigantic repercussions from public.

Some say the appellate court should send the case back to High Court to retrial, but I think the verdict leaves the prosecutors no more room to escape from finding the truth and to pretend they are serious in this case anymore.

What say you?