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Proceedings in the Banting murder trial stayed pending an appeal by the defence
PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal yesterday ordered that the proceedings in the Banting murder trial be stayed pending an appeal by the defence team against the High Court’s decision in setting aside the subpoenas against three deputy public prosecutors.
Judges Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin, Datuk Balia Yusof Wali and Datuk Aziah Ali granted the defence team the stay on the grounds that it was their right to call their witnesses to prepare their best defence and if stay was not granted, it would deny the four accused persons charged with the murders, a fair trial.
Counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon had applied for a stay of proceedings pending their appeal against High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir’s decision on Monday, in dismissing his application to compel three DPPs to appear as defence witnesses.
The three DPPs are Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Saiful Edris Zainudin and Idham Abd Ghani.
Manjeet and lawyers Gurbachan Singh, Amer Hamzah Arshad and Ravi Neeko are representing N. Pathmanabhan, T. Thilaiyalagan, R. Matan and R. Kathavarayan, who are charged with murdering cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, driver Kamaruddin Shansudin, banker Noorhisham Mohamad and lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim at a farm in Tanjung Sepat, Banting, on Aug 30, 2010.
At the defence stage of the trial where Thilaiyalagan was in the midst of giving his evidence, they had applied to call the three DPPs to the stand in their bid to challenge two documents which the DPPs had earlier tendered. The documents were the notes of proceedings of two others who were found guilty of disposing evidence in the Banting murders.
K. Sarawanan and U. Suresh were found guilty of disposing the evidence in an earlier charge in relation to the Banting murders. They are currently serving a 20-year jail sentence each.
(The three DPPs who are prosecuting the four accused in the on-going Banting murder trial, had also prosecuted at the magistrate's court involving Sarawanan and Suresh).
Earlier in submissions yesterday, Manjeet said if the High Court was to proceed with the trial, the rights of the four accused would be denied.
“If defence is compelled to close the case and not given the chance to call the witnesses they want, this would be prejudicial to the four accused,” he said.
DPP Manoj Kurup, who is appearing for Ishak, Saiful and Idham, however, said there was no special circumstances which warranted the stay. He agreed that it was the defence who decide who to call as their witnesses but questioned why they would want to do so if the witnesses are hostile.
This prompted Aziah to say: “That would be for them (defence) to decide. You conceded that it is their right to call the witnesses.
Manoj then replied that although the defence had the right to call their witnesses, the witnesses also have the right to set aside the subpoenas.
Balia then asked Manoj: “What is the urgency of the matter that the trial must proceed now?
“We just want the trial to move on as the dates had been fixed,” he said.
The stay application was supposed to be heard on Wednesday but was adjourned to yesterday after two judges - Datuk Ramly Ali and Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali - recused themselves on the grounds that they had heard a leave application for an appeal by Suresh and Sarawanan.
The application was initially fixed before Ramly, Apandi, and Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim.