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Why is Attorney-General not personally leading the prosecution in the Altantynya murder trial when it is likely to be the most high-profile trial under his tenure?
(Parliament, Thursday): Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail is to be commended for conceding to public demands for accountability and transparency to explain the reason for the last-minute change of the prosecution team in the Mongolian Altantunya Shaariibuu murder trial.
Gani said the DPP Salehuddin Saidin, who was leading the prosecution team had been seen playing badminton with trial judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin and the matter was only brought to his attention last Thursday.
Gani said realizing the sensitivity of the case, he decided to withdraw Salehuddin from leading the prosecution team. Given the time constraint of only three days for a new DPP to take over, he had no choice but to request for adequate time to prepare the case.
Whether Gani’s explanation would be fully accepted is another matter, at least he has given what can be regarded by some as adequate and acceptable explanation for the extraordinary turn of events at the start of the high-profile murder trial.
This is because there will be those who will ask why the judge Datuk Mohd Zaki had not recused himself from the trial instead.
Questions will be asked as to why the initial judge to preside over the trial, Datuk K.N. Segara, was taken off the case as the reason given, that he had more party-heard cases, is weak and unconvincing, and whether Judge Segara should be allowed to preside over the trial.
The incident has raised anew the subject of the proper conduct of judges and the main players in the system of justice, and what has happened to the public undertaking by Tun Ahmad Fairuz on his appointment as Chief Justice some four years ago in 2003 to recast the Judges’ Code of Ethics to restore public confidence in judicial independence, impartiality and integrity.
Malaysians are reminded of the stain in the history of Malaysian judiciary where the author of the Judges’ Code of Ethics in 1994, the then Chief Justice Tun Eusoff Chin, had himself violated and discredited the Code of Ethics by his own judicial misconduct and impropriety, to the extent that he left the high judicial office in disgrace.
There is also one question which is being asked by Malaysians about the Altantunya murder trial – why Gani is not personally leading the prosecution in the Mongolian murder trial when it is likely to be the most high-profile trial under his tenure as Attorney-General?
Is Gani prepared to give a satisfactory explanation to this question?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman