Malaysia responds to probe into death of woman with elite ties

(From Al Jazeera)

The office of Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has released an official response to an Al Jazeera investigation into the brutal murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a young Mongolian translator with alleged ties to Malaysia’s elite.

Altantuya Shaariibuu

Altantuya Shaariibuu

101 East, Al Jazeera’s award-winning Asia-Pacific current affairs programme, has produced a detailed report into Altantuya’s murder. She was killed in October 2006 and her body blown up with military-grade explosives.

In a crime that captured local and international media attention, the story behind Altantuya’s murder remains hidden in mystery almost nine years later, fueling suspicions of a possible cover-up.

However, it is said that someone important believed she knew about corrupt payments to government officials that had emerged out of an international submarine deal.

It was alleged that Altantuya was introduced by then Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, to Abdul Razak Baginda, a defence analyst from the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre think-tank, at an international diamond convention in Hong Kong. She allegedly  had a relationship with  Abdul Razak while accompanying him to Paris to work as a translator during his negotiations to purchase Scorpène submarines from France for the Malaysian government.

The case remains so sensitive today that the reporter of the story, Mary Ann Jolley, was deported from Malaysia during her investigation.

One of two officers from the government’s elite protection squad, who has been found guilty of Altantuya’s murder and faces death penalty, insists he has been made a scapegoat and maintains he was acting on the orders of others.

Sirul Azhar Umar

Sirul Azhar Umar

101 East has uncovered evidence that Sirul Azhar Umar, who fled Malaysia before the court’s decision and is currently being held in Australia, is attempting to negotiate with mystery figures back in Malaysia — hoping to trade his secret for a new life in Australia.

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera,a Malaysian government spokesperson said  the Prime Minister did not have any link with the deceased.

The two convicted individuals were not the Prime Minister’s personal guards, the statement said, adding the allegation was intentionally misleading, and has been used to perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories.

“They were members of a unit of the Royal Malaysian Police that provides rotating security for government officials and visiting dignitaries. The Prime Minister was not aware of the actions of the individuals until their arrest, ” it said.

“Comprehensive legal process has taken place …. The guilty parties have been convicted and sentenced. At no point during any of these legal stages was the Prime Minister implicated, even indirectly. These malicious allegations are therefore also an affront to Malaysia’s Judiciary,” it said.

Political opponents and their media allies have been trying to attack the Prime Minister on this issue for many years. But there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing. The allegations are entirely false smears motivated by political gain, the statement said.

The deceased was never involved in the purchase of submarines for the Royal Malaysian Navy, as has been alleged. The purchase was directly negotiated between the Malaysian and French governments, the statement said.

The brutal murder of Altantuya took place on October 19, 2006. That night, following “orders”, Sirul and his police partner Azilah Hadri  forced Shaariibuu  into a car and drove her to a  jungle near Kuala Lumpur.  They mercilessly shot the woman, who was on her knees begging for the life of her unborn child, and blew up her body using two sets of C4 explosives.

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