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Kes Altantuya - Kenapa tukar hakim, Karpal

Explain change of judge: Karpal

PETALING JAYA (March 8, 2007) - The lawyer holding a watching brief for Altantuya Shaariibuu's family in the high-profile murder trial wants an explanation on why the trial judge has been changed.

Karpal Singh said the public would want to know why the case, which was to be heard by Shah Alam High court judge Datuk K.N. Segara, was now being placed before Judicial Commissioner Datuk Mohammad Zaki Md Yassin.

He called upon the Chief Judge of Malaya to explain why the case was brought forward from March 10 next year to tomorrow and placed before another judge.

Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, the defence counsel for Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, one of the two policemen charged with the Mongolian's murder, was also quoted by a newspaper as having said he would seek an explanation for the change of trial judge.

"I am not aware why this was done but I will definitely ask for a reason when the case comes up for mention," he said .

Wong Kian Kheong, the lawyer for political analyst Abdul Razak Abdullah, who is charged with abetting in the murder, had no comments when contacted.

It was reported his client, who is in remand, had applied for an earlier date.

Corporal Sirul and Chief Insp Azilah Hadri, 30, were charged with murdering Altantuya in Bukit Raja, Selangor.

Razak is alleged to have abetted in the offence between 9.54am and 11.05am on Oct 18 in Bangunan Getah Asli.

According to a Shah Alam High Court statement, the case was brought forward as there had been a distribution of cases after three new judicial commissioners joined them from March 1.

The three are Datuk Mariana Yahya, P. Nallini and Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim.

A letter from High Court deputy registrar Rofiah Mohamad to the prosecution and defence teams, the Shah Alam High Court (criminal division) got an additional three new judicial commissioners to handle backlog criminal cases in the high courts.

The statement said following this, senior judge Segara re-distributed the cases among the six judges and judicial commissioners.

The purpose of restribution is to reschedule the dates of the hearings, by giving priority to cases, in which the accused were in remand for a long period and for cases invoving government servants, in order to speed up trial dates. sun2surf

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