High Court’s rejection of Sirul’s statement, Azilah’s alibi upheld


“If direct evidence is insisted, a successful prosecution of vicious criminals would be near impossible.”

(Free Malaysia Today) – The Federal Court has ruled, in an 88-page judgment, that the High Court’s judgment was sound in convicting Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder.

The High Court found that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the two accused. Federal Court judge Justice Suriyadi Halim Omar, who wrote the written grounds, said he and the other judges on the panel were satisfied on this point.

Azilah’s defence of alibi was unanimously rejected. The appellate panel held that he had merely given a bare notice of alibi without substantiating it during the high profile murder trial.

Sirul’s defence was based merely on an unsworn statement from the dock, noted Suriyadi on concurring with the trial judge in not giving weight to Sirul’s defence. Sirul’s unsworn statement did not also carry much weight because it was inconsistent with the other cogent evidence tendered in court, he added.

Sirul’s unsworn statement meant that he could escape any cross-examination, Suriyadi pointed out, and therefore his demeanour could not be gauged or could not be proved. “It is no small wonder the High Court refused to add any weight to his statement,” said Suriyadi.

“The discovery of the jewellery from Sirul’s house showed the untruthfulness of his unsworn statement.”

Suriyadi said the Court of Appeal erred when the station diary Azilah used as his alibi was accepted. The High Court was again correct when the contents of the station diary was subjected to proof, said Suriyadi.

“The maker (of the station diary) must be called to prove the contents. There was no denial by Azilah that he did not call the maker of the entry be it at the prosecution or defence stage, thus leaving the entry unproved.”

Azilah said he was at Bukit Aman during the time of the murder, far away from the location where the crime was committed at Puncak Alam, Shah Alam and used the station diary recording his entry and exit as an alibi.

Suriyadi said that it was obvious from Azilah’s call logs, analysed with the assistance of telecommunications company Celcom, that he had lied about the alibi defence.

“Cumulatively, by linking all the connective pieces of evidence when they were together, to the day when the scene of crime was independently and separately shown by them, we are satisfied that the prosecution had established the ingredient of common intention,” he said.

The prosecution’s case, he conceded, rested substantially or entirely on circumstantial evidence. “It is trite that direct evidence of the commission of the offence is not the only source from which a trial court can draw its conclusion prior to a finding of guilt.”

“Crimes are usually committed in secret and under conditions where concealment is highly probable,” said Suriyadi. “If direct evidence is insisted under all circumstances, a successful prosecution of vicious criminals, who have committed heinous crimes in secret or secluded places, would be near impossible.”

“In this case not only was the heinous crime committed at a secluded place, but the deceased’s body was blasted beyond recognition with only fragments of bones found.”