Two of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s former police guards were sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of a Mongolian woman whose brutal killing led him to deny opposition allegations he was involved.
The policemen, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, showed no emotion as they were found guilty today by Judge Mohd Zaki Md Yasin at the Shah Alam High Court outside Kuala Lumpur. Police had discovered the 28-year-old victim’s bone fragments in the jungle outside the city. Her family said she was shot and then blown up with military-grade plastic explosives.
The physical and circumstantial evidence was “irresistibly conclusive,” Judge Mohd Zaki told the defendants in court. “You will be hung by your neck until you are dead.” Both men plan to appeal the verdict, their lawyers said.
The opposition today repeated its call for Najib to clear himself of any connection to the crime through an independent royal inquiry. Najib, 55, has said he never met the woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a lover of his former adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was acquitted last year of abetting the killing.
“The bigger question is who could have been behind the murder,” Lim Kit Siang, a lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party and a former opposition leader in Malaysia’s parliament, said by phone after the ruling. “That is not answered.”
The two officers belonged to a special forces unit charged with protecting the prime minister and other Cabinet members. Najib was deputy premier at the time. Najib, in an interview at his office in June 2007, said it was “morally wrong” and “unethical” to connect him to the murder. Najib’s spokesman, Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, declined to comment today.
The former adviser, Abdul Razak, said Altantuya blackmailed him over their affair. He had carried out work for Najib, who was also the country’s defense minister.
In an affidavit on Jan. 4, 2007, Abdul Razak said he met Altantuya in France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, and her requests for financial help turned to blackmail. He asked for police patrols at home when Altantuya traveled to Malaysia to see him, according to his statement.
After police discovered her remains, Malaysian blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin in June last year said in a statutory declaration at the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, witnessed the placing of plastic explosives on the victim in October 2006. Najib, who became prime minister this month, called the allegation “garbage.”
Last month, opposition lawmaker Gobind Singh Deo was banned from parliament for a year for saying in the chamber that Najib was “involved in a murder case.”
The Mongolian victim, who was raised in St. Petersburg and educated in Beijing, was fluent in Russian, English, Chinese and Japanese, according to a 100 million-ringgit ($28 million) civil suit filed by her family against the Malaysian government on June 6 last year.
Altantuya’s father is satisfied with today’s verdict, said Syed Abdul Rahman Alhabshi, the Mongolian honorary consul in Malaysia, who has spoken on behalf of the family since the body was discovered.
“Both the family of the murdered girl and Malaysia need closure on this issue,” said Karim Raslan, a lawyer and political consultant based in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
Najib’s former police guards to hang for Altantuya’s death
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