Raja Petra Sedition Trial: Irked counsel calls police witness 'a useless officer'

PETALING JAYA: A police officer was put in a spot in the Raja Petra Kamarudin sedition trial yesterday for being evasive on questions linked to the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

Superintendent Gan Tack Guan was accused of being incompetent by Raja Petra's lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo after the police officer claimed ignorance to many of the questions posed to him.

Gobind was clearly irked by Gan's non-committal answers as the police officer was the chief investigating officer in Altantuya's murder investigations.

Gan was then the deputy chief of the Kuala Lumpur police's serious crimes division. He is now heading the Interpol division at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman.

Gobind had to be restrained by Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob after counsel accused Gan of being a "useless officer".

Gan was the fifth prosecution witness in the sedition trial. He told the court that he lodged a police report against Raja Petra on April 30.

Under examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusof, Gan said he came across the article,"Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell" while surfing Raja Petra's website, Malaysia Today (www.malaysia-today.net).

"I lodged the report as there were several portions in the article which were untrue and fabricated," he said, adding that there were four aspects in the article that were deemed seditious.

He later identified the report although the original was not tendered.

Gan said Deputy Superintendent Mahfuz Abdul Majid, the officer investigating the sedition report, recorded a statement from him.

Raja Petra, 58, is charged with posting the seditious article on his website, which implicated Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in the murder of Altantuya.

The offence was allegedly committed at his house in Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, on April 25.

The Malaysia Today editor is being detained under the Internal Security Act for posting articles in his website, which allegedly insulted Muslims and Islam. Raja Petra, however, was present in court.

Cross-examined by Gobind, Gan said to his knowledge, Altantuya's body was blasted with explosives, but not C4.

"If I am not mistaken, it was plastique explosives," he said.

Gobind: How were the explosives placed on the body?

Gan: I don't know.

Gobind: Come on Mr Gan. Come out of your slumber. What is happening to the police force in this country? I put it to you that you are a useless officer.

Rozina came to Gan's rescue and ordered counsel not to raise matters which were not connected to the sedition trial.

Gobind explained that people had expressed their disgust at the way the Altantuya murder trial proceeded. He, however, apologised to Rozina for badgering Gan.

Cross-examined further, Gan told the court that he did not know whether Altantuya was alive when the explosives were placed on her.

Ishak then submitted that the Altantuya murder trial was still on and that the trial judge at the Shah Alam High Court would deliver his decision on Oct 31 at the end of prosecution's case.

Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar were charged with the murder of Altantuya, and political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda for abetment.

"The issue before this court is whether the article annexed in the police report had seditious tendencies," Ishak said, adding that the prosecution feared that matters in the murder trial would be considered subjudice if allowed to be raised in the court.

Gobind then said it was Gan who had lodged the police report against Raja Petra before the Altantuya murder trial had concluded.

"And now, prosecution is not allowing us to raise the matter," Gobind said.

He said Section 3 of the Sedition Act stated a publication was not deemed to be seditious provided it pointed out errors in the interest of justice.

"We contend that the article by Raja Petra showed a certain error in the administration of justice in the on-going murder trial," he said.

He said the defence should be given the latitude to cross-examine Gan since he told the court earlier that certain matters in that article were concocted.

DPP Roslan Mat Noor, who is assisting Ishak, also submitted that the defence could only ask Gan why the witness felt that certain parts of Raja Petra's article were a fabrication.

Rozina asked the prosecution to mark the parts for Gan's reference.

Gobind then alerted the court that the enclosure that was annexed in the police report was not similar to the actual posting. He said the enclosure was a product of retyping, cut and paste.

Ishak then sought adjournment for a few days to sort the matter and to review the charge.

Hearing continues on Monday.

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