PUTRAJAYA, June 6 (Bernama) — Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said today he had to change the prosecution team in the murder trial of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu in the interest of justice because Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Salehuddin Saidin who was leading the prosecution team had been seen playing badminton with trial judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin. (photo from bernama)
After laughing my head off (for several days, that is), I spoke to lawyer R Sivarasa (photo by politico-blogger elizabeth wong)recently, to ask him about the implications of this new development, which caused, not only an embarassment, but a total injustice for all concerned, especially the court, accused, the family of the murdered woman, the witnesses, and the counsels, including the trial judge, who had to execute the postponement.
According to Sivarasa, we have not asked the most important question, that is, why is the head of the judiciary’s civil division prosecuting this high profile murser case?
The head of the newly appointed prosecution team Tun Majid Tun Hamzah is the head of the civil division.
“Why has the criminal division and all the experienced DPPs in it been totally marginalised? querried Sivarasa. “I have never seen a precedent like this“. He went further to add that the AG himself could prosecute the case, but chose not to. “Does this mean that the AG’s chamber is in conflict?”
What really happenned to the criminal division of the AG’s chamber? Indeed, that is the question one must ask.
Also read Sivarasa’s take on “WHAT IS SUB-JUDICE?”.
I asked him to explain in plain and simple words for lay persons, like us, to understand. I asked since this has been the excuse by some quarters not to talk or question the discrepancies in this trial of the century. Worst still, it is being used by politicians, and their side-kicks, many in the media fraternity, even certain bloggers, to deny others the right to question what is deemed unfair:
Me: What is sub-judice?
Sivarasa: The law on sub-judice is based on UK’s common law and has its origins in criminal trials where there is a jury. To prevent the jury from being influenced by public opinion. For example, in some civil cases, the law of sub-judice also applies where the court has asked for publications to be witheld”.
What about a court where there is no jury, like Malaysia?
If a judge is (able to be) influenced by public opinion, he is unfit. A judge is a trained lawyer, no matter what he reads or hears or feels, he should be able to walk into a court room, put on his robe and read the facts of the case and judge accordingly. However, if a judge (or his family) is threatened, then that is contempt of court.
There are cases in Malaysia where the judge invokes the law of sub-judice. In most colonised countries, this is done where judges exploit the law to protect themselves.
There you are, sub-judice in a nutshell, by a famous lawyer. Don’t listen to loyar-buruks (half-past six) in the blogosphere.