Malaysia's new AG presided over Altantuya murder and use of 'Allah' cases

Tan Sri Mohamed, 65, chaired the Court of Appeal.
Tan Sri Mohamed, 65, chaired the Court of Appeal. PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

 KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's new Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, is a former Federal Court judge who had presided over several high-profile cases, including the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu and the prohibition of the use of the word "Allah" for non-Muslims.

 Tan Sri Mohamed, 65, chaired the Court of Appeal which overturned a High Court's decision to convict former police commandos, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, of the murder of Ms Altantuya.

She was killed in 2006 in a high-profile case linked to a submarine deal involving a former Najib aide when the latter was Defence Minister. The remains of Ms Altantuya, who was involved in negotiations for the submarines, were found in a jungle clearing near Kuala Lumpur after she was apparently shot and her body blown up with explosives.

 In his 47-page judgement in August 2013 , Tan Sri Mohamed held that circumstantial evidence produced by the prosecution was insufficient and that the duo's guilt had not been satisfactorily proven.

On Jan 13 this year, however, the Federal Court overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal and re-convicted the duo.

But Sirul failed to appear in the Federal Court for the hearing and the court issued a warrant for his arrest. It was later learnt that Sirul had gone to Australia in October last year on a valid passport but it was revoked by the Australian government following the Interpol Red Notice issued against him.

Tan Sri Mohamed also played an instrumental role in the Catholic Church's battle to use the word "Allah" in its newsweekly Herald.

 In October 2014, he chaired a three-member Court of Appeal which allowed the Government's appeal to overturn a 2009 High Court ruling that the Home Ministry's decision in prohibiting the Herald from using the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia section was illegal, null and void.

He said the reason for the prohibition on the use of the word "Allah" was to prevent any confusion among the various religions.  He also said that national security and public order could be threatened if the Catholic publication was allowed to use the word "Allah".

He maintained that the government had not violated the church's constitutional rights, as the word "Allah" was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice.

Tan Sri Mohamed is married to Puan Sri Faridah Begum, the older sister of Jahabar Sadiq, chief executive officer (CEO) of the popular Malaysian Insider news portal.