Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot dead and her remains blown up with explosives in a secondary jungle in Shah Alam 13 years ago. The case made international headlines and served as a potent weapon in the former opposition's arsenal.
The case was heard in three courts and culminated in the Federal Court reinstating the conviction and death sentence for two former police special action force members Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar in 2015.
However, the apex court's decision failed to extinguish the suspicion of a cover-up to protect former premier Najib Abdul Razak.
This is because there were several irregularities such as:
- The motive for the murder was not established
- Najib's former aide de camp Musa Safri was not called as a witness
- The prosecution did not appeal the acquittal of Najib's close associate, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was charged with abetting the murder
- A member of his security detail (Azilah) was convicted of the murder
In a statement to Malaysiakini, Najib addressed these issues following Azilah's damning allegations in a statutory declaration (SD) claiming the former premier had ordered him to kill the Mongolian national.
On Monday, Malaysiakini reported that the death row prisoner alleged Najib, who was then the deputy premier, and Razak Baginda convinced him that Altantuya was a foreign spy and threat to national security.
Despite Najib maintaining that he never met the deceased, Azilah (photo) claimed that he saw the former premier and Razak Baginda with her at a condominium in London.
As for the failure to establish a motive, Najib told Malaysiakini that this question should be posed to the nine judges in the three courts who heard the case.
“On the motive not being established, you will have to ask the judges - many of whom are still serving today under the Pakatan Harapan government.
“I believe there was a total of nine judges who gave their verdicts in three different courts right up to the highest level. One judge in the High Court, three judges in the appeals court and five judges in the Federal Court.
“However, I do note that the victim's clothing and valuables were found in the possession of the police officers,” he added.
With regard to the prosecution not appealing Razak Baginda's acquittal, Najib said former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail would be the best person to address this issue.
“However, I believe Razak Baginda was charged and tried but the High Court judge acquitted him without his defence being called.
“I can only speculate that this means the case against him was weak and that is why the AG at that time did not appeal the decision."
Furthermore, Najib pointed out that the Attorney-General's Chambers at the time was also defending against the appeal by Azilah and Sirul who were found guilty at the High Court.
“Appealing Razak Baginda's case could mean that there could have been two separate court cases running simultaneously for the Altantuya murder,” he said.
Below is Najib's statement in full:
1. On the motive not being established, you will have to ask the judges - many of whom are still serving today under the Pakatan Harapan government. I believe there was a total of nine judges who gave their verdicts in three different courts right up to the highest level. One judge in the High Court, three judges in the appeals court and five judges in the Federal Court.
However, I do note that the victim's clothing and valuables were found in the possession of the police officers.
2. Similarly, the attorney-general at that time is the best person to ask why Razak Baginda's acquittal was not appealed.
However, I believe Razak Baginda (above) was charged and tried but the High Court judge acquitted him without his defence called
I can only speculate that this means the case against him was weak and that is why the AG at that time did not appeal the decision.
Additionally, the AGC at that time was also defending against the appeal by the two police officers who were found guilty in the High Court.
Appealing Razak Baginda's case could mean that there could have been two separate court cases running simultaneously for the Altantuya murder.
3. The way the UTK bodyguard system works is that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the PM and the DPM share a pool of bodyguards. None of the UTK (personnel) was exclusive to any one person.
This was why the two police officers were arrested while they were accompanying Pak Lah (former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) in the UK.
4. There have been many misinformation about this case over the past 13 years which many Malaysians still wrongly believe in. Among these includes:
- The alleged photograph of me with the victim in circulation is actually a fake that (PKR vice-president) Tian Chua had admitted creating.
As I have maintained many times, I have never met her. And that is the truth which I had sworn in the mosque many years ago.
5. Although Musa Safri was not called as a witness in the High Court, he was actually offered as a witness for the two police officers' defence in the Court of Appeal. It was the defence lawyers who decided not to call Musa Safri as a witness.
6. The explosives used was not C4 or military explosives. It never was. This was explained in court that the police forensics found that the explosives used were RDX and PETN commonly used in quarrying or construction activities.
7. Altantuya's immigration records were never deleted and were intact. This was confirmed in court too.
It would have been strange to delete her immigration records to supposedly hide her presence in Malaysia only for the government to announce her tragic murder in Malaysia.
8. The Scorpene submarine deal was actually mooted by PM-4 (Dr Mahathir Mohamad). It was also approved and signed during his time. It was not my project.
Despite the many hundreds of days of the case being tried in court over three different courts, there will still be many who want to believe what they want to believe despite the evidence before them.
However, people must ask themselves if I am that cruel and powerful as a DPM to order the killing of a woman who was here to blackmail US$500,000 from Razak Baginda then why were all my rival politicians safe and sound when I had more power as PM over the past nine years?
Since Harapan alleged that I was supposedly so powerful and had control of the AG and also the courts, then the people should ask themselves why the government would charge the two police officers in the High Court and then appeal again in the Federal Court after the two police officers were acquitted if I was truly involved in this conspiracy and ordered her killing.
The government then could have just dropped the charges then or withdraw the appeal - just like how the Harapan government had dropped the charges in (Finance Minister Lim) Guan Eng's corruption trial or withdrew the appeal in (PKR vice-president) Rafizi Ramli's trial.
They should also ask themselves if it is reasonable that the police officers were only paid RM300 duit raya to kill and blow up a person?
Even BR1M payment is higher than that.
And I am sure there are those who would still believe that an alleged Russian spy would go to a police station to lodge a report stating that her life could be in danger.
And yet these are all in the SD.
The rakyat should also know that this SD was made 19 months after Harapan is in government and was lodged as part of the police officer's bid to get the courts to review his death sentence verdict, which I believe was scheduled to be carried out soon. It was not made to confess his crime.