[Photo: Azilah Hadri (L) and Sirul Azhar Umar (R), the two men linked to the death of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu. ]
SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA: Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri,32, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 36, were found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu three years ago.
Judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin said that the two had failed to cast any doubt on the prosecution's case and that they only blamed each other.
He said that he had analysed and tested all submissions by all the parties.
Azilah, 33, is represented by two counsels, Datuk Hazman Ahmad and J. Kuldeep Kumar while Sirul Azhar, 37, who is represented by Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Hasnal Redzua Marican and Ahmad Zaidi Zainal.
In the high profile trial that hogged the local and international media, the duo were charged with murdering Altantuya, who was 28 then, between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 Mukim Bukit Raja near here, between 10 pm, Oct 19 and 1 am, Oct 20, 2006.
Initially they were tried together with the Executive Director of Malaysian Strategic Research Centre (MSRC), Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, 48, who was charged with conspiring in the murder of Altantuya.
However on Oct 31, 2008, the political analyst walked out a free man after the court found that the prosecution had failed to furnish proof on an important element on the conspiracy charge.
Abdul Razak since has left to United Kingdom and is said to be taking up PhD at Oxford University.
While Azilah and Sirul Azhar who pleaded not guilty are hoping to be released, the prosecution is going all out to prove they are the ones behind Altantuya's murder and the disposal of her remains using explosives.
The prosecution team consisting of Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, Noorin Badaruddin, Manoj Kurup and Hanim Rashid stressed in their submissions that Azilah and Sirul Azhar are the people behind Altantuya's murder.
Based on the evidence gathered from prosecution witnesses, the explosive used to blow up Altantuya's body was probably placed in her mouth.
Manoj noted at the end of the prosecution's case that both accused had the motive to kill and it was a preplanned crime.
Manoj noted that several circumstantial evidence that the prosecution tried to prove were never denied, explained or answered by both defendants.
"Several of the strong evidence deduced from the testimonies when spun together will make two ropes that are strong enough to hang each one of them.
"The prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt on the actions of the duo calls for their conviction on the murder carried out with the common intention," he had said.
Azilah who started his testimony on Jan 15 stated that he had no motive to kill or destroy the woman and instead he only met Altantuya to advise her politely not to harass Abdul Razak or create a ruckus outside the latter's home.
Azilah also told the court that he was ordered by a superior, DSP Musa Safri to help Abdul Razak and thus he would not have done something stupid like killing and what more when he was a policeman.
While defending himself Sirul Azhar broke down a few times and related to the court that he has been made the 'sacrificial lamb' in the murder.
The case has set many records including being the most number of days for hearing (159 days) and 84 witnesses at the prosecution stage and two at the defence stage, and it remained the high profile case for almost two years before Abdul Razak was released.
According to records, Azilah has been incarcerated at the Sungai Buloh Prison for 891 days while Sirul Azhar 895 days.
While there are many conspiracy theories still going around, the verdict on Sirul Azhar and Azilah may put to an end many of these theories.
» Altantuya Murder Trial: `Razak said she was Chinese'
» Altantuya murder trial: Sirul claims he was a scapegoat