Dec 24, 2008

Altantuya case not over yet for Razak Baginda

Lawyer Karpal Singh, acting on behalf of Altantuya Shaariibuu's family, has filed an application at the Shah Alam High Court to compel the prosecution to appeal against the acquittal of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
SHAH ALAM: Lawyer Karpal Singh filed an application at the High Court here on Wednesday to quash the Attorney-General’s (AG) decision not to appeal Abdul Razak Baginda’s acquittal of an abetment charge in the murder of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Karpal said the application was filed at noon on behalf of Altantuya’s father Dr Shaariibuu Setev.

He said they were asking the court to quash the AG’s decision not to appeal the acquittal and to direct the AG to use his discretion under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to apply for leave and file an appeal in the case.

He said the application for leave was necessary since the 14-day period to file for an appeal against the Oct 31 acquittal had expired on Nov 14.

“We have 40 days to file our application and today was the final day for us to do so,” he told reporters at the court lobby here Wednesday.

He said the application also called for Abdul Razak to be taken under custody for the duration of the appeal against his acquittal or then be released on bail.

Justice Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin acquitted and discharged Abdul Razak, 48, without calling for his defence on Oct 31.

Lead prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah announced two weeks later that the prosecution would not appeal against the acquittal as the Shah Alam High Court, which acquitted Abdul Razak, had made a finding of fact in its decision.

Karpal said the application, although the first filed against an AG over the use of his discretion, was based on law as anyone allowed to use discretion in making decisions had to work within set perimeters.

“Discretion must be used fairly and reasonably and not arbitrarily, so we are asking the court to state by way of judicial review that the AG’s discretion can be questioned in a court of law.

“After the amendment to the Federal Constitution, even the rulers are subject to the law and I cannot see how the AG can be exempted, to act as he pleases without anyone to question the manner in which he exercises his discretion,” he said.

He said in view of the public interest in the case, he would also apply for an early date for the application to be heard and for the court to decide if it had the jurisdiction to question the discretion of the AG.

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