Najib 'never knew or met' murdered Mongolian woman

Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu is believed to have been shot to death before explosives were placed on her body and detonated.
Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu is believed to have been shot to death before explosives were placed on her body and detonated. PHOTO: SIN CHEW JIT POH

KUALA LUMPUR • Prime Minister Najib Razak never knew, met or communicated with Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Malaysian government said in a strong response to a 30-minute programme aired by Al Jazeera yesterday on the Mongolian woman's murder in 2006.

"The Prime Minister did not know, has never met, has never had any communication with and has no link whatsoever with the deceased," the government said in the statement to Al Jazeera.

Shown on current affairs show 101 East, the episode was produced by Australian journalist Mary Ann Jolley, whom the Malaysian authorities deported on June 14 .

A statement by Al Jazeera said Ms Jolley was deported as her activity had a "potential negative effect on the image of Malaysia", the Malaysian Insider reported yesterday.

Ms Altantuya was killed in October 2006 and her body blown up with military-grade explosives in a crime that grabbed local and international media attention. Two men were sentenced to death in January this year despite lingering suspicions of a possible cover-up.

"The two convicted individuals were not the Prime Minister's personal guards. This allegation is intentionally misleading, and has been used to perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories," the government statement said, referring to former policemen Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri.

The government also said no evidence of Datuk Seri Najib committing any wrongdoing had emerged throughout police investigations into the murder, as well as the numerous court trials. It said "the allegations are entirely false smears motivated by political gain".

"Political opponents and their media allies have been trying to attack the Prime Minister on this issue for many years," it said.

In the episode titled Murder In Malaysia, allegations of attempts by Putrajaya to cover up investigations appear to be predicated on Ms Jolley's deportation, the Malay Mail Online reported.

"It obviously shows the sensitivity of the story," Ms Jolley said in a self-recorded clip for the segment.

"Clearly, I've hit a raw nerve," she said as she walked to board her flight to Sydney.

Back in Australia, she interviewed a man said to be a relative of Sirul's.

The relative spoke of his conversation with Sirul, who is currently detained by the Australian immigration authorities in Sydney, about the night of Ms Altantuya's murder.

"I said, 'Did you pull the trigger, like did you?'" the relative recalled. "I said to him (Sirul)... You had a choice, you had a choice of walking away from the situation and leaving it alone.

"He said, 'I would have been dead', because of what he knew."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Najib 'never knew or met' murdered Mongolian woman'. Print Edition | Subscribe