2nd Altantuya killer to seek review of Federal Court’s guilty verdict

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KUALA LUMPUR (Apr 3): Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, one of two former police commandos sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, will apply for a review of the Federal Court's guilty verdict.

Azilah’s lawyer, Datuk Hazman Ahmad, said the application was being finalised and would be filed soon although there was no deadline.

"There are some valid grounds to review the ruling by the five-man bench," he told The Malaysian Insider when asked if Azilah had applied to the Pardons Board to get his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

He did not elaborate on the grounds of Azilah’s review application. The former policeman is now on death row.

Hazman said the review application would have to be disposed of before any representation was made to the Pardons Board.

A review application is made under Rule 137 of the Federal Court rules on grounds of procedural unfairness, with the applicant asking for the adverse judgment to be set aside and a new bench be constituted  to rehear the appeal.

The Federal Court had on January 13 reinstated the conviction of Azilah and Sirul Azhar Umar for the murder of the 28-year-old in 2006.

However, Sirul was not present when the verdict was delivered and subsequent news reports revealed that he had left for Australia last October.

The 43-year-old was arrested in Brisbane and held in an immigration detention centre there.

However, he was later reportedly released by the Australian Immigration authorities but his passport was withheld.

Sirul had also threatened to reveal all about the high-profile murder of the Mongolian to the Australian media, claiming that Altantuya's murder had been carried out on instructions.

According to media reports, Sirul would not be sent back to Malaysia as Canberra forbids repatriating suspects who faced the death penalty, setting up a potential tug-of-war.

Earlier this week, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Sirul’s extradition process was delayed because it involved “complicated legal issues”.

Sirul’s lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin had also revealed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers has yet to commence an extradition request with Canberra, although the former policeman was arrested on January 22.

He said if an extradition request was filed, an application would have to be made for Sirul to appear before a magistrate in Australia.

Evidence in court revealed that Altantuya, a Mongolian translator, was murdered before the body was blown up by C4 explosives on October 18, 2006, on the outskirts of Shah Alam, near the capital city Kuala Lumpur.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a confidante of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul but was acquitted by the High Court in 2008 without his defence being called.

The government did not appeal his acquittal. Despite the conviction, the motive for the murder of Altantuya was never revealed.