Jul 24, 2008

Court rejects bid to call DPM Najib as witness

The Shah Alam High Court today dismissed an application by lawyer Karpal Singh to call Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and two senior police officers to testify as witnesses in Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder trial.

SHAH ALAM : Malaysia's High Court has rejected a move to summon the country's Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, to testify in court over the murder of a Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Altantuya's family counsel, Karpal Singh, had submitted the application, calling for Mr Najib and several others to take the stand.

In rejecting the application, High Court judge Mohd Zaki said lawyer Karpal, who is holding a watching brief for the victim's family, has no locus standi or is in no position to make the application. Only the parties involved, namely the prosecution and the defence, have the right to do so.

The judge also said that there is no evidence to suggest that recalling private investigator Balasubramaniam or summoning deputy premier Najib to testify is essential to a just decision of the case.

As such, he is disallowed a stay of the proceeding pending police investigation, as this will cause unnecessary delay since the private eye is missing and there is no telling when the police investigation will be completed.

Speaking outside the court, Karpal was disappointed with the court's decision.

"The court should recall Balasubramaniam, ... bring the man here as I want to question him (on) the status of his evidence. The judge should at least have done that," said Karpal.

He argued that the prosecution should be the one making the application to recall Balasubramaniam, who is a key prosecution witness, in light of the shocking sworn statement linking Mr Najib to the murdered mongolian model, although it was subsequently retracted.

Karpal said he may appeal against the court's decision.

Meanwhile, the family of Altantuya is said to be pessimistic over the prospect of a fair trial.

Syed Abdul Rahman Alhabshi, Mongolian Consul to Malaysia, said: "The parent expected all this. When I asked him (parent) if he was coming or not, (he said) he doesn't see light at the end of the tunnel, so what's the point of (him) coming."

Submission for the case has just started after the prosecution closed its case in a trial that has dragged on for over 120 days. It will take at least one to two weeks before the court decides whether the defence has a case to answer.



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