Malaysia will resume investigation into the murder of the Mongolian model
Malaysia will reopen the investigation into the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, a case that has cast a shadow over the government of former prime minister Najib Razak for more than a decade.
In June 2006, a pregnant Altantuya was taken to a forest and shot twice in the head and then her body blown up with explosives. Two bodyguards working for Najib, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, were convicted of the murder and sent to jail in 2008, but a neither a motive for the crime, nor who ordered the killing, was ever investigated.
“I can confirm we are reopening investigations,” inspector-general of police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said on Friday. He confirmed that a new police report submitted by Altantuya’s father on Wednesday was one reason for the new investigation.
Altantuya had been the lover of Abdul Razak Baginda, a known associate of Najib, and many believe that her involvement in a defence deal to purchase two French Scorpene submarines may have led to her death. Both Baginda and Najib were alleged to have taken multi-million dollar backhanders for the deal, which they both deny.
Najib has always denied ever even meeting Altantuya and Baginda was cleared of all charges for abetting her murder. Asked about the Altantuya case this week, Najib said: “I’m on record to have sworn in a mosque in the name of Allah that I had nothing to do with the case. I still maintain that I only knew she died four, five days after the death … that was the first time I heard about her. There is no evidence to show I ever knew her.”
On Wednesday, Altantuya’s father, Steve Shaariibuu, submitted a police report about her death, citing new evidence. He called for investigation into why Najib’s aide, Musa Shafri, was never called as a witness in the original trial. Musa was Azilah and Sirul’s boss and it is alleged he gave them the direct order to carry out her killing.
“I believe that if not for Musa, Azilah and Sirul would not have come to Razak’s house that day and taken my daughter away and she would very likely still be alive today,” said Shaariibuu in the police report.
“Musa therefore is a very crucial witness as he would be able to provide information as to who instructed him to secure Azilah and Sirul’s said attendance and for what purpose.”
Sirul is in detention in Australia, after he fled Malaysia while out on bail. He said recently he would comply with a new investigation into Altantuya’s death and sources told the Guardian that Australian authorities have given the green light to deport Sirul back to Malaysia if he is treated fairly. Malaysia have confirmed it is considering dropping the death penalty charges against Sirul so he can be extradited.