Even before 8am, the court was packed with journalists, police and family members of the accused. At 9.13am, Abdul Razak Baginda arrived and was immediately swarmed by a big group of photographers. Mr. Sharibuu and three other witnesses, including a human rights lawyer, Mr Bayar and an interpreter arrived just before 9am. Mr Sharibuu was seen spotting a bright yellow shirt and brown vest, hair cropped, with tinted glasses. The group sat at the left hand side of the court, while Baginda’s family – mother, father, sister and brother – sat on the right. Baginda’s wife and daughter, came into the court house with a walking stick. She had a streak of green hair, and looked cheery. Baginda wore his usual blue shirt and dark pants, and waved at his family, smiling. It was an emotional reunion for Baginda and his family, as he hugged and kissed his wife, daughter and mother. His father remained seated, looking very calm.
The two other accused – Sirul and Azilah – looked well and equally calm.
AT 9.20am, the court doors were locked, and the sardine pack court room, with many observers standing, wre hushed into silence when Judicial Commisioner Mohd Zaki entered the court room.
At 9.25am, the three accused were called to the dock. Lawyers conducting watching brief Karpal Singh wheeled in together with Sangeeta Kaur Deo, who walked in and sat before the judge.
After the customary introductions, lawyer for Azilah, Zulklifi Noordin, took his place and begin to address the court. He said his presence at the court house was a courtesy move as he was discharging himself from duty. He requested to read a 3 paragraph statement but Zaki did not allow it.
Zulkifli explained that he had to read his statement as there were many speculations about his position. He said he did not want the matter to be manipulated as there were several foreign journalists present. But Zaki told him it was not necessary to do so as he did not want Zulklifi to use the court as a platform. The debate went on about 10 minutes before Zaki put a total end to th matter, and Zulkifli said he would find another platform to make his statement.
One of the defense lawyers voiced his fear that Zulklifli would take the opportunity to make privilege statement by disclosing whatever discussions he had with his client, to which the latter objected and denied he ever had the intention to do so.
Following this, lawyer Karpal Singh raised his concerns regarding Lawyer Hazman and asked that the latter be disqualified as Zaki was the uncle of his late wife. Zaki ignored the concerns. Later, Karpal told reporters that he would make an appeal to have Hazman disqualified, as “the relationship too close”.
“Justice must be done and seen to be done. The relationship is close enough. I have nothing personal against Hazman but in the interest of justice, and eliminating any doubt, the Chief Justice cannot be seen as favouring Hazman,” said Karpal, in court.
Then came the bombshell. The request by the prosecution to delay the trial for another month. DPP Majid Tun Hamzah said his team was new as he was merely informed hours before the trial on Monday, in fact, as he was driving home from his kampung yesterday evening. He got a call telling him that he would take over the prosecution team.
“This cannot be avoided. We are a new team. There are more than 100 statements which have been recorded. We also just received the notice of allibi for Azilah on 25 May,” said Majid.
“Justice is not about conclusion and conviction…..I apologised to all who are present, including the family. Due to this suddent twist of event…Irequest for a month postponement,” he added.
“I am not capable to come forth and prosecute, without looking at the documents. It is almost impossible to prosecute”.
Zaki said his July calendar was cramped. But Majid said he had no other choice. “It is beyond me. I simply can’t proceed”.
He added that the foreign witnesses were in Malaysia on government expenses. “They are based in Ulanbataar. So, it is not a problem to bring back”.
Karpal Singh interjected and said although he understood the predicament of the prosecution, he questioned why they were replaced – with no reason. He urged the case to be disposed of as soon as possible.
He also expressed his concern over the public expense and tax-payers’ money being spent on the Mongolian witnesses.
Zaki later adjourned the court for a 15 minutes break, after which, he allowed the postponement to June 18, for the prosecution to prepare their case.
Meanwhile, AFP reported that Zulkifli Noordin said he could no longer act in defence of Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri as there was “interference” in the case.
Zulkifli told reporters he believes fully in his client’s innocence but “certain facts have come to my attention during my preparation of the trial” that would compromise his ability to act further.
“There were serious attempts by third parties to interfere with the defence that I proposed,” he said, declining to elaborate.