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Murder of Shaariibuugiin Altantuyaa

Shaariibuugiin Altantuyaa (Mongolian language: Шаарийбуугийн Алтантуяа;


sometimes also Altantuya Shaariibuu; 1978 – 2006), a Mongolian national, was a murder
victim who was either murdered by C-4 explosives or was somehow killed first and her
remains destroyed with C-4 in October 2006 in a deserted area in Shah Alam, Malaysia
near Kuala Lumpur. The Shah Alam High Court meted out the death sentence to both the
accused on the 9 April 2009, wrapping up the 159 day trial.

Early life
Altantuyaa was born in 1978. Her parents raised her and her sister while they worked in
Russia where Altantuyaa started first grade elementary school. She was reportedly fluent
in Mongolian, Russian, Chinese, English, and some French.

Altantuyaa moved back to Mongolia in 1990 and a few years later, married a Mongolian
techno singer, Maadai. They had a child in 1996 but the marriage ended in divorce and
the child went to live with Altantuyaa's parents.

Despite training as a teacher, Altantuyaa briefly moved to France where she attended
modeling school before returning to Mongolia.

Altantuyaa remarried and had another child in 2003 but the second marriage also ended
in divorce. The second child also lives with Altantuyaa's parents. Her mother said she has
never been a model.

Murder
She was allegedly introduced to Abdul Razak Baginda, a defense analyst from the
Malaysian Strategic Research Centre think-tank, at an international diamond convention
in Hong Kong by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, and had a
relationship with him. She reportedly had worked as Abdul Razak’s translator on a deal
he was brokering for the Malaysian government to buy submarines from France. The pair
seem to have travelled to Paris together for the submarine deal. The two quickly became
romantically involved.

In October 2006, the French newspaper Liberation claimed that Altantuya was informed
that the commission paid by Armaris, a Spanish company involved in Malaysia’s
acquisition of three submarines for one billion euros (RM4.7 billion), had been deposited
in a bank account in Malaysia. The commission of 114 million euros was allegedly paid
into the account of Perimekar, a company Razak controlled. Altantuya then allegedly
flew to Kuala Lumpur with her cousin to demand her share of the commission, which
was to have been US$500,000.

When she went missing on 19 October 2006, her cousin lodged a police report and sought
help from the Mongolian embassy in Bangkok. Altantuya, by her own admission in the
last letter she wrote before her murder, had been blackmailing Razak.

The Malaysian police found fragments of bone, later verified as hers, in forested land
near the Subang Dam in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam. Police investigation of her remains
revealed that she was shot twice before C-4 explosives were used on her remains,
although there has been later suggestion that the C-4 explosives may have killed her.
When her remains were found their identity could only be confirmed with DNA testing.
The provenance of the C-4 remains unclear.

Abdul Razak and three members of the police force were arrested during the murder
investigation. The two murder suspects have been named as Chief Inspector Azilah
Hadri, 30 and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35. They had been members of the elite Unit
Tindakan Khas (the Malaysian Police Special Action Force or counter-terrorism unit) and
were both assigned to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who was
also the Defence Minister at the time of the murder. Abdul Razak has been charged with
abetment in the murder.

Trial
According to testimony in the trial of Altantuya's accused murderer Abdul Razak
Baginda, the murdered woman accompanied him to Paris at a time when Malaysia's
defense ministry was negotiating through a Malaysian company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, to
buy two Scorpene submarines and a used Agosta submarine produced by the French
government under a French-Spanish joint venture, Armaris. Perimekar at the time was
owned by a company called Ombak Laut, which was wholly owned by Abdul Razak.

Shaariibuu Setev (right) with his lawyer, Karpal Singh, both seated.

During the trial, Altantuya's cousin Burmaa Oyunchimeg testified that after Altantuya
returned from France, she went to Hong Kong to meet Burmaa. There she showed
Burmaa a photograph of Altantuya and Abdul Razak Baginda, who is accused of
conspiring in her murder, and a government official taking a meal together. Karpal Singh,
the lawyer for the victim’s family, attempted to ask a question about who the government
official was that was allegedly seen in a photograph with the victim. At that point, both
the prosecution and the defense lawyers sprang to their feet in unison to block the
question. Answering Singh later, after the shouting match in the court had subsided; she
said this government official was Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

On 22 July 2008 lawyer Karpal Singh filed a notice of motion to call Deputy Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and three others to testify in the trial for the murder
of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. Karpal who holds a watching brief for Altantuya's
family, also sought to recall private detective P. Balasubramaniam who was the first
prosecution witness in the trial Karpal said that summoning Najib is bound to admit fresh
evidence to the case. The application was filed under Section 425 of the Criminal
Procedure Code (CPC) which allows a court to summon or recall any person as a witness
in a trial. It also allows the court to summon or recall any such person if his evidence
appears to the court to be essential to the just decision of the case. On 23 July 2008 the
High Court rejected a petition by lawyer Karpal Singh to obtain testimony from Deputy
Prime Minister Najib Razak, dealing a blow to the opposition's efforts to link Najib to the
2006 killing of translator Altantuya Shaariibuu. In rejecting the application, High Court
judge Mohd Zaki said Karpal, who is holding a watching brief for victim Altantuya's
family, has no locus standi or is in no position to make the application. He mentioned
only the parties involved, namely the prosecution and the defence, have the right to do so.

On 31 October 2008 the High Court acquitted Abdul Razak Baginda of abetment in the
murder of Altantuya. Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar have
been ordered to enter their defence and testify under oath.] On 10 November 2008 it was
announced that the murder trial has been postponed to January 2009 in order to allow the
defence more time to prepare and gather witnesses. Among the witnesses that a defence
lawyer is seeking is Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin and “missing” private
investigator P. Balasubramaniam, whose whereabouts is still not known.

From the onset of the trial the defence counsel for Sirul Azhar and Azilah had sought to
get the 112 statements from all prosecution witnesses and this was rejected on the
grounds that witness statements recorded under Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure
Code is privileged. The judge has denied them access to the witness statement of Deputy
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's former aide-de-camp DSP Musa Safri to testify
in order to rebut Abdul Razak's affidavit.

On 3 February, 2009 Sirul Azhar asked the court not to sentence him to death for
Altantuya's murder, saying he was like "a black sheep that has to be sacrificed" to protect
unnamed people who have never been brought to court or faced questioning. "I have no
reason to cause hurt, what's more to take the life of the victim in such a cruel manner,"
Sirul said. "I appeal to the court, which has the powers to determine if I live or die, not to
sentence me so as to fulfil others' plans for me." He stated in his confession which was
tape-recorded and conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, that he was told he was not to answer
questions but that whether in answer to questions or not, his remarks would be recorded
as a statement.
Review over Razak's Acquittal

Shariibuu Setev's lawyers have applied for a review the Attorney-General's decision not
to appeal Abdul Razak Baginda’s acquittal in the murder of Shariibuu’s daughter
Altantuya. The application was set to be heard at a High Court on July 8, 2009. Dr
Shariibuu later withdrew the application but said he would still proceed with the claim
against Abdul Razak, Azilah, Sirul Azhar and Government of Malaysia for damages over
Altantuya's death.

First Statutory Declaration

In a statutory declaration in his sedition trial in June 2008, Raja Petra accused Datin Seri
Rosmah Mansor (the wife of Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun
Razak) of being one of three individuals who were present at the crime scene when
Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered on 19 October 2006. He wrote that Najib’s wife,
Rosmah Mansor, and Acting Colonel Aziz Buyong and his wife, Norhayati, Rosmah’s
aide-de-camp, were present at the scene of the murder and that Aziz Buyong was the
individual who placed C4 plastic explosive on Altantuya’s body and blew it up.

Dr Shaariibuu Setev, the father of murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu,


has asked the police to conduct a thorough investigation into an allegation by Malaysia
Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He said the police should look seriously into the
allegation by Raja Petra as it might provide them with fresh evidence. In retaliation, the
two people named in Raja Petra Kamarudin’s statutory declaration on 18 June 2008, Lt-
Col Aziz Buyong and his wife Lt-Col Norhayati Hassan, as having been present at the
murder scene of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu are suing the Malaysia Today editor for
defamation. Aziz is seeking an apology from Raja Petra to be published in certain
websites and newspapers, the removal of the statutory declaration from his blog and
damages of RM1 million. Raja Petra’s counsel, J. Chandra, later insinuated that the
article titled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ on April 25 under Raja Petra’s
byline was posted without his consent or knowledge.

Second Statutory Declaration

A second statutory declaration was filed on 1 July 2008 by Abdul Razak Baginda's
private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, disclosing Najib's links to the murdered
Mongolian girl. He said the police omitted information about the relationship between
Najib and Mongolian murder victim Altantuya Shaariibuu in his statement. In the
declaration Abdul Razak had told Balasubramaniam that the deputy prime minister had a
sexual relationship with Altantuya and that the trio had dined together in Paris.
Balasubramaniam detailed conversations in a statutory declaration in which the well-
connected political analyst allegedly told him he had in effect inherited Altantuya as a
lover from Najib, who passed her on because he didn’t want to be harassed as deputy
prime minister. Among other lurid details, Balasubramaniam described text messages
between Najib and Abdul Razak in which the latter was asking for help to avoid arrest.
Former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called for a Royal Commission of
Inquiry to look into the case.

P. Balasubramaniam made a retraction of the statutory declaration he made on 1 July


2008 and its replacement with one that erased all traces of allegations with references to
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder.
There were accusations that this new statutory declaration could have been due to
intimidation or inducement, and was done not on his own free will. Bala's first lawyer
Americk Singh Sidhu said he was not able to get in touch with Bala despite repeated
phone calls.The Malaysian police said on Sunday 6 July that they have asked Interpol to
help find the private investigator who has been reported. missing since making explosive
claims linking the deputy premier to a murder. Bala's nephew has filed a missing person's
report, saying the investigator and his family had disappeared. It was discovered on July
10 that Balasubramaniam's house in Taman Pelangi here has been broken into but police
have yet to ascertain whether anything was stolen. Balasubramaniam is said to have taken
refuge in a neighbouring country with his wife and children.

Case verdict
On the 9 April 2009, High Court Judge Zaki Yasin ruled that Sirul Azhar and Azilah
statements were unbelievable as both of the accused only blamed each other. Both
policemen were sentenced to death for the murder of Altantuya. Wrapping up the 159 day
trial, Zaki said both of them failed to raise any reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case.
However, their lawyers will lodge an appeal. Both policemen showed no emotion upon
hearing their hanging to death sentence. Their family members accept the court's decision
and denied any political elements in the verdict.

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