Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda walked out a free man from the High Court here after two years of standing trial for abetment in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
The first thing he did after the judge pronounced his freedom was to hug his daughter Rowena and wife Mazlinda Makhzan.
Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin ruled that the exculpatory statements in a tell-all affidavit made by Razak at the outset of the trial had cleared him of the abetment charge.
“In the absence of the rebuttal evidence against them, coupled with the fact that there is no legal onus for him to rebut any statutory presumptions, there is clearly no reason for the statements to be ignored and rejected.
“I agree with the counsel that the exculpatory parts which are corroborated in material particulars (by four witnesses) and other surrounding circumstances have clearly negated and nullified the act of abetment as alleged against the accused,’’ Zaki said while reading out his ruling.
The four witnesses were Razak’s private eye P. Balasubramaniam, Altantuya’s cousin Burmaa Oyunchimeg, an old flame of principal accused C/Insp Azilah Hadri, who is a Special Action Squad (UTK) operative - L/Kpl Rohaniza Roslan and Razak’s secretary Siti Aishah Mohd Azlan.
At the start of the trial, Abdul Razak filed an affidavit saying he had an affair with Altantuya after meeting her in 2004.
The tell-all affidavit said they had trysts in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and France, but broke up in 2005.
The judge’s ruling on Friday came after he had perused about 6,000 pages of notes of proceedings and written submissions.
Justice Zaki said once the essential elements of abetment of the murder was not proven on a prima facie basis, “any other inferences and doubts that may have arisen must be resolved, as is trite, in favour of the accused (Razak)”.
“It is not for the court to call for the defence merely to clear or clarify such doubts. I find there is no prima facie case for him to answer his charge. He is therefore acquitted and discharged forthwith,’’ he said.
The trial began in November 2006, during which 84 prosecution witnesses testified.
Also in the dock for the murder charge is another UTK operative Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, 37.
Both C/Insp Azilah and Kpl Sirul Azhar were ordered to enter their defence on Friday against the charge of murdering Altantuya near Shah Alam, Selangor, between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am the following day.
They chose to testify under oath. Trial has been set for Nov 10 onwards.