Altantuya murder: Former Malaysian commando has not left prison since 2015, says Prisons Department

Azilah Hadri (right), who was sentenced to hang for killing model Altantuya Shaariibuu (left), claims the ex-PM gave him an explicit order to kill her. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian commando Azilah Hadri, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006, has never set foot outside of prison since April 15, 2015, said the Malaysian Prisons Department.

In a statement on Wednesday (Dec 18), the department said Azilah was last out of prison on that date to attend trial at Sepang magistrate's court.

"Azilah's escort to the court was arranged after Kajang Prison received an order from the court to bring him for the trial."

"It is in accordance with Section 30 of the Prisons Act," said the department.

The statement comes after the lawyer of former prime minister Najib Razak claimed on Tuesday that Azilah was brought outside the prison in breach of procedures to allegedly meet with a "VVIP" in February this year.

However, lawyer Shafee Abdullah declined to name the person.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he has never met Azilah since his imprisonment and also dismissed allegations that his government is behind the former commando's revelation.

"As this involves the legal process, the government will leave the matter to the relevant authorities to decide on the course of action," he said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prison Department said based on its records, Azilah was never allowed to leave the prison, nor was he taken out since that day for any matter.

"Since last year, Azilah was visited 34 times by family members and 15 times by his lawyer at Kajang Prison."

"Thus, any allegation that Azilah was taken out of prison to meet a VVIP this year is definitely not true," the department added.

The issue has brought the murder of Ms Altantuya, 28, back into the spotlight. Her body, which was blown to bits by explosives, was found in a jungle clearing atop a hill in Shah Alam.

Azilah has claimed in a statutory declaration that he and former colleague Sirul Azhar Umar were ordered to kill Ms Altantuya by Najib and the politician's close associate Abdul Razak Baginda - claims that were immediately rejected by the former premier.

On Wednesday, Najib wrote on his Facebook page that he will swear a religious oath to deny Azilah's claim.

"I intend to perform the sumpah laknat to deny the allegations contained in Azilah Hadri's statutory declaration. I will perform this at Masjid Jamek in Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur after Friday prayers," he said.

News site Malay Mail reported that sumpah laknat is a sacred oath done in the name of God, beseeching divine retribution to fall on the wrong party, which some Muslims occasionally use as emphatic denials.

Azilah and Sirul were members of the police force's special action unit, or Unit Tindakan Khas, and their duties included guarding VVIPs like Najib, who was then deputy prime minister.

Azilah was found guilty in 2009 of the murder and sentenced to hang along with Sirul.

Sirul is at a detention centre in Australia, after fleeing to the country in 2014 while on bail, and has applied for asylum.

Azilah is seeking a retrial of his case, and his lawyer has filed the application to set aside the 2015 Federal Court ruling, which overturned the acquittals of Azilah and Sirul.

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