Lack of proof linking bombs to cops, rules judge

PETALING JAYA - The trial judge in the Altantuya Sharibuu case had failed to take into account the lack of evidence linking the two policemen accused of her murder to the explosives used in the act, ruled the Court of Appeal.

In the written judgment of the three-judge panel, Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said that while the High Court judge had found a connection between the explosives and the death of Altantuya, he had failed to connect the explosives to Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar and C/Insp Azilah Hadri.

"Evidence shows that bombs are strictly controlled in the police store.

"Apart from basic training, the appellants had not undergone any other training relating to explosives and that the appellants may not have the necessary experience and skill to handle explosives," she wrote.

This was one of the seven grounds brought up in Justice Tengku Maimun's 47-page judgment that led the panel to conclude that the 2009 conviction of Sirul Azhar and Azilah was unsafe.

The panel also ruled that the High Court judge had also failed to consider Azilah's alibi that he was at Bukit Aman at the material time, thus he was unlikely to be at the crime scene in Puncak Alam.

There were two sets of contradictory evidence about Azilah's whereabouts on the night of the murder: the police station diary shows that he was at Bukit Aman at 10.18pm on Oct 19, 2006, collecting a Glock handgun. However, phone call logs had placed him at the Pekan Subang area at 10.15pm and at Kampung Melayu Subang at 10.19pm on the same day.

"It was contended by (Azilah's) counsel that the evidence had cast reasonable doubt on those entries in the call logs and that the learned trial judge should have directed his mind to the two contradictory sets of evidence and in failing to do so, had seriously misdirected himself," wrote Justice Tengku Maimun.

The other grounds addressed were the questionable reliability and accuracy of the call logs used by the prosecution to determine the accused's location, the failure to produce a key witness - former Deputy Supt Musa Safri, the contradictions in the prosecution's witnesses testimony, and the circumstantial nature of the bloody slipper and a spent bullet cartridge which was found in Sirul Azhar's car.