Hornbill Unleashed

August 28, 2013

Righteousness and justice

hu1 – Lim Mun Fah

The two alleged suspects of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder were acquitted after they had brought the case to the Court of Appeal.

The outcome immediately sparked a chorus of controversy. But Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail informed that the prosecution would appeal, that said, this 159-day trial, has not yet come to an end.

This trial has since aroused global attention. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, Altantuya the deceased is a Mongolian beauty with a legendary and murky identity.

She was reported to have come all the way from Mongolia to meet her lover in Malaysia but ended up murdered, and her remains destroyed with C-4 explosives. This amorous, exciting and atrocious plot of the narrative is arresting at its best to the stalking-oriented public.

Secondly, there were three influential accused initially, namely, the then-defense analyst from the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre think-tank Abdul Razak Baginda, and two policemen, C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar.

The trial was tedious and teemed with surprises, but Abdul Razak was later acquitted without his defence being called for.

This verdict, to date, has raised an uproar as well as legal controversy. There were lawyers who pinpointed the unnecessary fallacy presented by the prosecution.

Accordingly, that was the cause of the loss. For instance, there were asymmetries in the various witness statements and evidence raised by the prosecution was falsifiable. The fatal blow being that there was no summons of questionings of the witnesses.

Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was disappointed with the verdict. To him, the Court of Appeal should instead have ordered to review the case and not to pronounce acquittal. Furthermore, Pakatan Rakyat officials had called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry for further investigation to restore the reputation of our legal system.

Frankly speaking, legal system is generally Greek to many a member of the law-ignorant public. The verdict has all the more puzzled the general public and begs the question: Can righteousness and justice be upheld legally? Does the recurrent acquittal of the murderers uphold legal justice or reveal the impotence of prosecution?

Most common folks are kindhearted. They tend to sympathise with Altantuya the victim, albeit not knowing who she is since the murder is believed to be factual.

“A murderer must pay with his life” is their logic. When the verdict goes against their expectation, prevailing sense of disappointment and discontentment should be understood and justified.

Different stance would result in disparate interpretation. No sentence can be made without sufficient evidence and it is to the core an uncompromising principle.

Similarly, in the position of the family members, freedom retrieved to the alleged relative should be accredited to blessings from the cosmic power as well as the justice upheld by the court.

For Altantuya and her family, as long as the murderers are at large and not convicted, her apparition will always linger in the Malaysian sky.

In passing, I recalled the acquittal made to OJ Simpson for his alleged murder of his ex-wife and a waiter. After hearing the verdict the waiter’s father said, “Today is not the day prosecution has lost the trial but the nation, as righteousness and justice was not upheld.”

Indeed, to uphold righteousness and justice is the universal calling. It is also our expectation and hope for each and every trial.

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