Apex Court upholds acquittal of senior citizen in maid murder case

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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today affirmed the acquittal of a senior citizen accused of murdering her Indonesian maid four years ago.

A three-member bench chaired by judge Vernon Ong said trial judge Akhtar Tahir had exercised his discretion to give MA Ambika, 62, an acquittal.

“There is no appealable error by the High Court and the Court of Appeal,” he said in dismissing the prosecution’s appeal.

The others on the bench were Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Rhodzariah Bujang.

Ambika was accused of murdering Adelina Lisao, 28, at her home in Medan Kota Permai 2, Bukit Mertajam, on Feb 10, 2018.

The High Court in George Town acquitted her on April 18, 2019 although the prosecution had requested a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).

The Court of Appeal affirmed Ambika’s acquittal last year.

Ong said the bench was of the opinion that the prosecution must give a reason when it did not want to continue with its case.

“In fact, based on appeal records, there was no reason given by the prosecution (in the High Court),” he said.

He said a discharge not amounting to an acquittal could only be given if a good reason was provided.

Indonesian ambassador Hermono, its consul-general in Penang, Bambang Suharto, and embassy officers were present to observe today’s proceedings.

In its decision, Court of Appeal judge Nordin Hassan had pointed out that the prosecution accepted a representation from Ambika’s legal team and that it would not go ahead with the proceedings against her.

“The decision not to proceed with the prosecution of the respondent (Ambika) was made two days before the decision by the trial judge to acquit her,” Nordin said.

“On this ground alone, the exercise of the trial judge’s discretionary power to order an acquittal against the respondent is justified.

“There is no valid reason for the prosecution to apply for the case to be classified as DNAA when it had been decided that the charges against the respondent were to be dropped.”

Evidence was presented in court that Ambika’s lawyer, Y Anbananthan, had written a representation to the Attorney-General’s Chamber (AGC) on April 4, 2019 after three prosecution witnesses gave evidence.

On April 18, 2019, a deputy public prosecutor informed Akhtar that she had instruction from her superiors not to proceed with the trial “at this juncture”.

She could not give a reason for asking for a DNAA, leading Akhtar to acquit Ambika based on Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mokhtar today submitted that the Court of Appeal misconstrued the section on the judge’s discretion and the AGC’s reply.

Deputy public prosecutors Nahra Dollah and Ku Hayati Ku Haron also appeared for the prosecution.

Ambika was also represented by lawyer Baldev Singh Bhar, who appeared with Anbananthan.

Ambika, who is wheelchair-bound, was present in court with her daughter, R Jayavartiny. – V Anbalagan | FMT

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