(The Star) KPL Sirul Azhar Umar stepped onto the witness stand yesterday to make his defence in a trial-within-a-trial to ascertain whether his confession to his superior was made voluntarily.
However, his testimony was full of contradictions, leaving everyone in court – many of whom were hearing his voice for the first time – confused.
At one point, the Unit Tindakan Khas (Special Action Force) corporal, who is one of the accused in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial, denied that he had even made the confession, only to admit later that he did, after repeated questioning.
It was during cross-examination when Kpl Sirul Azhar denied that he made the confession to Asst Comm Mastor Mohd Ariff, the UTK second-in-command who had gone to Islamabad, Pakistan to bring him back from his assignment.
Asked by DPP Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah if he had given a response to the senior police officer after being told about C/Insp Azilah Hadri’s allegations against him, the corporal replied that he did not.
ACP Mastor, in his testimony earlier, said he told L/Kpl Sirul Azhar that C/Insp Azilah had accused him of being the one who murdered a Mongolian woman and blew up her body with explosives.
“I didn’t tell him anything, My Lord. Nothing at all. He asked if it really did happen. I didn’t say anything,” said the corporal who is attached to the communications unit of the UTK.
When DPP Tun Abd Majid asked why he did not reply, Kpl Sirul Azhar said: “I felt there was no need to say anything.”
Elaborating further, the corporal said ACP Mastor continued to question him, asking him if it really did happen.
“He asked me many times. I don’t remember how many times, but many times.
“He kept asking throughout the entire flight (from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur on Nov 6) except when the food was served,” he said.
Pressed further, Kpl Sirul Azhar maintained that he did not respond to any of ACP Mastor’s questions at all.
“Instead, he was the one who told me everything,” the corporal said, adding that his superior did not get anything from him.
ACP Mastor: Brought the accused back from an assignment in Pakistan.
Kpl Sirul Azhar also said he did not rebut any of C/Insp Azilah’s allegations.
However, when DPP Tun Abd Majid suggested to the corporal that he did give a response to his superior within two to three minutes after the latter had informed him about the allegations, he made a complete U-turn.
“Yes, I just remembered. I agree,” the witness said, prompting Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin to remark: “You only remember it now?”
The corporal kept quiet.
However, Kpl Sirul Azhar maintained that ACP Mastor had queried him repeatedly.
To DPP Tun Abd Majid’s final question on whether he had made a confession to ACP Mastor, the corporal replied: “Yes.”
When his lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin re-examined him, the corporal confirmed again that he did respond to his superior, who spoke to him in a stern and commanding tone.
Kpl Sirul Azhar said he felt nervous and restless when he confessed to ACP Mastor.
While he did not remember exactly how many times he responded to his superior, he said there were many times.
Earlier, Kpl Sirul Azhar said he did not believe that he was being brought back to Malaysia because his ex-wife had lodged a police report against him.
He said the reason given by ACP Mastor was “too small” and agreed with DPP Tun Abd Majid that there was a “bigger reason.”
“Do you agree that you knew the real reason even without being told by ACP Mastor?” the prosecutor asked.
“I’m not sure,” the corporal replied.
Justice Mohd Zaki then asked if he understood the question and he replied, “I didn’t know anything at that time.”
But when Kamarul Hisham asked Kpl Sirul Azhar the same question to clarify, the witness suddenly answered, “berkenaan kes inilah (about this case).”
The lawyer then asked his client if he was confused by the question and told him to think it through before answering.
The corporal later answered that the “bigger reason” he meant actually referred to his ex-wife, as he was worried that she might have been killed or that his superior had not told him the whole truth about her.
In his testimony, Kpl Sirul Azhar said he was on assignment escorting the Prime Minister when he was relieved of his duties on Nov 5 and ordered to “prepare food for a Datuk.”
He said he was resting inside one of his colleague’s hotel rooms when ACP Mastor showed up with two other personnel to bring him back to Malaysia.
Kpl Sirul Azhar said his superior then told him that his ex-wife had lodged a report against him and as such, he had to return so “the image of the police force would not be jeopardised.”
“I didn’t believe any of ACP Mastor’s words because I got divorced in 2004 peacefully,” he said, adding that he was ordered to leave his suitcases and just return with the clothes on his back.
Kpl Sirul Azhar said he was watched closely during his trip back to Malaysia. He was even escorted when he went to the toilet.
When asked for his address at the beginning of his testimony, Kpl Sirul Azhar replied, “Penjara Sungai Buloh (Sungai Buloh Prison).”
tags : Altantuya Shaariibuu murder mongolian malaysia abdul razak baginda malaysiakini