Mongolian's murder case may be reopened

Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot and her body blown up in a Shah Alam forest in 2006.
Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot and her body blown up in a Shah Alam forest in 2006.

A high-profile case concerning the murder of a Mongolian woman in Malaysia 12 years ago may be revived, with new evidence that could shed more light on her killing.

Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot and her body blown up with military-grade explosives in a forest in Shah Alam, Selangor, in 2006. Two police commandos were convicted of her murder three years later.

The victim's father, Mr Setev Shaariibuu, is in Kuala Lumpur to convince Malaysia's new administration, helmed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to reopen investigations into the death of his 28-year-old daughter.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who represents Mr Shaariibuu, told reporters yesterday that the case could be reopened with new leads in place. "There's a very good chance the matter will be probed further," he said after a meeting between the country's new Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and Mr Shaariibuu.

"It's enough to say for now that there are sufficient new leads to command an investigation," he added, declining to reveal what the new evidence is.

The murder trial received national attention because the two convicted men, Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri, were then part of an elite police unit guarding VVIPs, including then Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

  • KEY EVENTS IN CASE

  • Oct 19, 2006: Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, reported missing by friend.
    Oct 26: Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri arrested.
    Nov 6: Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar arrested
    Nov 7: Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda detained.
    Nov 15: Azilah and Sirul charged with murder.
    Nov 16: Abdul Razak charged with abetting murder.
    Oct 31, 2008: Abdul Razak acquitted without entering defence.
    April 9, 2009: Azilah and Sirul found guilty and sentenced to death.
    Aug 23, 2013: Court of Appeal overturns decision and acquits both men.
    Oct 2014: Sirul goes to Australia
    Jan 13, 2015: Federal Court finds both men guilty and sentences them to death.
    Jan 15: Police make request to extradite Sirul.

Ms Shaariibuu was allegedly the mistress of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a former associate of Datuk Seri Najib.

Sirul claimed he was acting on orders from his superiors and only drove the Mongolian translator to the scene of the murder.

"Our priority is to know who ordered this murder," Mr Ramkarpal said yesterday. "It defies logic that the previous investigator asked who pulled the trigger but not why he pulled the trigger."

Sirul fled to Australia in 2014, and there have been calls to extradite him to provide further evidence. Mr Ramkarpal said the case could still proceed without Sirul's presence.

"There are other evidence available in Malaysia. Certain crucial witnesses were not called which could have shed light on the motive," he said. He also acknowledged that the other convicted man, Azilah, can be a witness in a renewed probe. Azilah is in prison, on death row.

Mr Shaariibuu will be meeting Tun Dr Mahathir today. When asked what he hopes to achieve from these meetings, Mr Shaariibuu said: "Nobody is above the law. Only justice."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2018, with the headline 'Mongolian's murder case may be reopened'. Print Edition | Subscribe