PUTRAJAYA (Sept 24): The Court of Appeal (COA) today allowed the family of slain Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu's appeal to obtain recorded statements by the police of witnesses who were either called or not called during the criminal trial.
A three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin unanimously ruled that these police statements used in the criminal trial are not privileged documents which should have been kept away from the public for civil cases.
“We order that these Section 112 statements recorded by the police be made available to the family's lawyers within two weeks from today,” said Justice Nor Bee, adding that the court made no order as to costs.
The documents for the murder case are being kept with the trial and appeals division of the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).
Sitting with Justice Nor Bee were COA Judges Datuk Supang Lian and Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya.
The bench ruled that the recorded statements by the police are relevant to assist the claimants in the trial as some of the witnesses — who either had been called or not called — had either passed away or could not recall what transpired.
Justice Nor Bee also ruled out the possibility of tampering of witnesses in the civil trial if the recorded police statements are provided to the family. She also ruled out that public interests would be affected if the documents are handed in.
“The police investigations into the case had long concluded as stipulated via a statement by the police on Aug 20, 2018,” she said.
“These [recorded statements by the police] are not privileged documents as the case happened a long time ago and as long as it is relevant to the subject [matter of the civil suit], they can be released,” the court added.
Dr Shaariibuu Setev, who is Altantuya's father, along with her children and mother, named police officers Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, political analyst Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda and the government in the RM100 million suit following her death in October 2006.
Both Azilah and Sirul were found guilty of the murder by the High Court, and the Federal Court on Jan 13, 2015 also upheld the High Court's conviction and death sentence after the COA acquitted the duo.
However, Abdul Razak was acquitted by the High Court at the end of the prosecution case and there was no appeal filed by the prosecution.
Azilah is being imprisoned in the Kajang Prison, while Sirul managed to leave the country before the apex court decision was made but is presently held at the immigration detention facility in Wollongong, Australia.
Shaariibuu's lawyer contended that as the murder was committed by the police officers, the government should be held vicariously liable.
The family was represented by Sangeet Kaur Deo from Karpal Singh & Co, while senior federal counsel Asliza Ali appeared for the government.
Submissions for the appeal were heard on July 28, following the Shah Alam High Court decision to dismiss the family's discovery application.
Sangeet when contacted said the civil trial was supposed to proceed today after the COA decision.