An inquiry into the disappearance of a Mongolian model, who was apparently shot before her body was blown apart with explosives, was ordered by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian Prime Minister, yesterday.
His intervention came after police held a prominent political analyst in connection with the case that has caused a sensation in the country. Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, a member of the World Economic Forum, is the fourth person to be remanded in custody in connection with the death of the 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose body was found on Monday. He is a member of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a television political pundit in Malaysia, and is studying for a doctorate at Oxford.
The others held after Miss Shaariibuu’s body was found on wasteland near Shah Alam are a police chief inspector and two police lance corporals, one male and one female. Mr Badawi said he had told the inspector-general of police to “investigate the case thoroughly and properly through due process”.
It has been reported that Mr Baginda met Miss Shaariibuu in Mongolia two years ago and the two had a relationship. The girl’s father in Mongolia said he believed they were married and that Mr Baginda was the father of her baby son.
His arrest sent Malaysian society reeling. Unnamed politicians and intellectuals described him as a “good” and “affable” man to the Malaysian Star newspaper. One said that Mr Baginda had showered Miss Shaariibuu with diamonds and other jewellery and had deposited $30,000 in her bank account. They had been on holiday together to Europe and South Africa.
“The father of murdered model Altantuya Shaariibuu will come with the marriage certificate to prove that they were married. He will also bring his grandson to undergo DNA tests to prove he is Abdul Razak’s son,” Mongolia’s honorary consul, Syed Abdul Rahman Alhabshi, said.
18 June 2007
An adviser to Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister ordered two police officers from an elite bodyguard unit to murder his beautiful Mongolian lover, a politically-charged murder trial heard today.
The remains of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old translator, part-time model, and unmarried mother of two from Mongolia, were found blown up by explosives in a jungle clearing near Kuala Lumpur late last year.
Abdul Razak Baginda, 47-year-old father of a teenage daughter, planned the murder, prosecutors said in what promises to be the most closely-followed trial in Malaysia for years. Mr Abdul Razak and the two police officers face the gallows if found guilty.
Mr Abdul Razak is alleged to have turned to the police officers – from a unit charged with protecting Malaysia’s leaders - after Miss Shaariibuu began blackmailing him when their relationship turned sour.
He was well known in Kuala Lumpur as a high-flier close to the ruling party and a friend of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been forced to deny any knowledge of the case.
The trial, which has already been postponed in controversial circumstances, is being widely seen as a test case for a judicial system, which has often been criticised in the past as vulnerable to political interference.
Tun Majid Tun Hamzah, for the prosecution, told the High Court in Shah Alam that Mr Abdul Razak abetted the police officers “in planning and giving instructions so that the deceased is killed.” He denies the charge.
He said that the officers, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30, and Constable Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, carried out the killing and that Sirul had confessed. The two officers are charged with her murder.
After their arrest, Mr Azilah had led police to the clearing where Miss Shaariibuu’s remains were found.
Miss Shaariibuu had threatened Mr Abdul Razak’s child unless Mr Abdul Razak paid her, the prosecutor said.
Mr Tun Majid said that a pathologist’s report would show that the cause of death was ‘probable blast-related injuries’. A pair of slippers found in Mr Sirul’s house were stained with what DNA tests proved was Miss Shaariibuu’s blood, he said.
The trial had been scheduled to start earlier this month but was postponed after the attorney general replaced the prosecutor after he was seen playing badminton with the judge.
Before the trial started it had become a political football, with former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim calling for fairness and lamenting what he described as the failure of police to question Deputy Prime Minister Najib.
No evidence has emerged to link Mr Najib with the case and the Deputy Prime Minister issued a statement insisting that he had had no involvement with the dead woman.
Malaysia’s judiciary has often been the subject of criticism. Nearly ten years ago Mr Anwar was himself dismissed by then premier Mahatir Mohammad and convicted of corruption and sodomy, a decision which was widely criticised abroad.
Mr Anwar has said that the judiciary and police are on trial in today’s case, and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has pledged there will be no cover-up.
22 March 2009
A FRENCH arms company is at the centre of a deepening scandal involving the sale of three submarines, the murder of a beautiful Mongolian interpreter and the man most likely to become prime minister of Malaysia next month.
All three have been linked in a sensational sequence of revelations that has convinced many Malaysians that the woman was killed to silence her demands of a share in the rewards of the transaction.
The scandal exploded last week after the French newspaper Libération alleged that the submarines deal and the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu, 28, were connected.
A glamorous, cosmopolitan woman, Altantuya grew up in St Petersburg, spoke Russian, Chinese, Korean and English, moved in elite circles and has been dubbed “a Far Eastern Mata Hari”.
She became the mistress of a Malaysian political fixer and was allegedly trying to extort money from him at the time of her violent demise.
Two members of an elite Malaysian police unit that protects top politicians are on trial in Kuala Lumpur, accused of shooting her in the jungle and then blowing up her body with military explosives.
Azilah Hadri, 32, and Sirul Azhar Umar, 36, officers in the Special Branch, could go to the gallows if convicted of abducting and murdering Altantuya on October 19, 2006. A verdict is expected early next month.
Their trial is unfolding as Najib Razak, the country’s deputy prime minister, stands on the verge of taking over as premier after a ruling-party leadership election, due within days.
Najib was accused by a young opposition MP, Gobind Singh Deo, in parliament, of involvement in the murder. Deo was suspended by the Speaker for making the remark. The deputy prime minister has strongly denied any involvement.
Testimony in an earlier court case has established an intimate personal and financial connection between the dead woman and a close aide to Najib, who was minister of defence at the time of the submarine deal.
The aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, was acquitted by a court last November of being an accessory in the murder. He has since been working on a doctorate at Trinity College, Oxford.
Baginda admitted that the dead woman was his mistress for about a year and prosecutors said she had pestered him for money after their break-up.
Just before her death she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, accompanied by a Mongolian shaman, who was to put a curse on Baginda if he did not pay up.
Altantuya was dragged away from outside Baginda’s home by two Special Branch officers, but he was acquitted after maintaining that he never gave orders for her to be harmed.
The Libération exposé linking the murder to the shadowy world of arms contracts has embarrassed the French war-ship firm DCNS. Armaris, a firm now merged with DCNS, sold the three submarines to Malaysia in 2002 for £937m.
Attention has centred on why Armaris paid £107m to a Malaysian company called Perimekar in 2006.
Opposition leaders alleged in parliament that the payment was a “commission” for intermediaries and that Perimekar was secretly owned by Baginda. Najib replied that it was not a “commission” and that Perimekar was a “project services provider”.
Libération has alleged that Altantuya, who toured France with Baginda in a Ferrari, wining and dining at expensive restaurants, learnt of the payment. It said she was demanding $500,000 (£345,000).
DCNS has refused to comment. It is already the subject of a French judicial investigation into corrupt practices, thanks to a whistleblower who has detailed bribery and industrial espionage allegations.
Last week, efforts to contact Baginda, a self-styled political analyst, at his new home in Oxford were unsuccessful.
Najib has avoided public comment but his politically influential wife, Rosmah Mansor, told the French news agency AFP that she was “shocked” by attempts to link her husband and her to the case.
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