Competency of interpreter questioned in Altantuya’s family’s civil suit

22 Jan 2019 / 17:49 H.

SHAH ALAM: The trial on the RM100 million civil suit filed by the family of Altantuya Shaariibuu over the woman’s death, which started today, saw the counsel who represented the defendants questioning the competency of having an accountant perform the role of an interpreter.

Counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon, appearing for one of the defendants in the suit, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, said Enkhjin Batbilig, 31, was not qualified to translate the testimony given by witnesses from English to Mongolian and vice versa as she had limited experience in translation work.

“The court needs to consider the amount of translation work beyond routine. Her experience in doing translation is also limited to translating financial documents,“ he told the High Court here.

He also alleged that besides not possessing the mandatory requirements of a qualified interpreter, Enkhjin’s meeting with two Mongolian witnesses at a legal firm for two hours yesterday amounted to an attempt at coaching them.

Senior Federal Counsel Norinna Bahadun, who appeared for the Malaysian government together with Tengku Intan Suraya Tengku Ismail, adopted Manjeet’s submission as well.

“Enkhjin is not an independent interpreter, and she compromised herself in meeting the witnesses,“ she said in her submissions.

Counsel Ramkarpal Singh, appearing for Altantuya’s family, defended Enkhjin, who is ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualified, saying she has a good command of English and almost all the courses she underwent was in the English language.

Judge Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera in his judgement later ruled that Enkhjin was qualified to perform the role of interpreter in the civil suit and thus dismissed the objections made by the counsel representing the defendants.

He also said there was no basis to claim that Enkhjin was biased by being with two Mongolian witnesses at the legal firm yesterday.

On June 4, 2007, the parents of Altantuya, Dr Shaariibuu Setev and wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and their two grandsons, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, filed the RM100 million suit against two former policemen, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, Abdul Razak and the Malaysian government.

However, Altanshagai Munkhtulga’s name was later removed as a plaintiff as he died two years ago.

In the statement of claim, the family alleged that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental shock and psychological trauma, entitling them to be compensated with exemplary and aggravated damages.

Baginda was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul Azhar in the murder of Altantuya, 28, in 2006, but was acquitted by the Shah Alam High Court in October 2008 without calling for his defence, while Azilah and Sirul Azhar were convicted of the offence in 2009.

On Aug 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed Azilah and Sirul Azhar’s appeal and acquitted them of the charge.

However, on Jan 13, 2015, the Federal Court allowed the prosecution’s appeal and set aside the Court of Appeal’s decision. It found Sirul Azhar and Azilah guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging.

The trial continues tomorrow with Dr Shaariibuu providing his testimony. — Bernama

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