Malaysia, Al Jazeera clash over high-profile murder documentary (video)

Reading Time: 3 minutes
altantuya
Altantuya Shaariibuu, in better days

Amid mounting tensions between Gulf Arab countries and Malaysia – triggered by alleged dubious money flows involving state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB -, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera on September 11 unexpectedly released an investigative documentary “Murder In Malaysia” on the mysterious murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu through its Asia-Pacific current affairs programme, 101 East.

The piece shows Australian reporter Mary Ann Jolley probing why Shaariibuu, a former photo model who somehow got involved in Malaysia’s top politics by dating an official and close associate of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and later seemed to have acted as a translator at a secretive defense deal, was killed in 2006, uncovering evidence from various sources alleging the people involved in the murder.

Shaariibuu went missing on October 19, 2006. Malaysian police found fragments of bone, later verified as hers, in forested land in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur. It was determined that she was shot twice before C-4 explosives were used on her remains, although there has been later suggestion that the C-4 explosives may have killed her. When her remains were found their identity could only be confirmed with a DNA test. The provenance of the C-4 could not be determined.

The reasons why she was murdered also remains unclear. Some allege attempted blackmailing related to the defense deal, others say it must have been a result of jealousy in the highest ranks.

Two bodyguards of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak have been named as suspects, but the trial took a long time and they were both seen as scapegoats by critics. Ultimately, Malaysia’s Federal Court on January 13, 2015, found them both guilty of murder and sentenced them to death. One of them fled to Australia where he is currently being detained by Australian Immigration pursuant to Malaysia’s request for extradition, which Australia cannot legally comply with owing to the country’s laws against capital punishment.

The episode of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” series largely revisits already established details of the murder and does not appear to include new information of note, but features dramatic re-enactments of key moments of the case. However, the piece alludes to “massive cover-ups” by senior Malaysian officials, at a time when the Malaysian government is under heavy pressure over the 1MDB controversy.

It turned out that the journalist who produced the half-hour piece was deported by Malaysian authorities already on June 14. A statement by Al Jazeera said the Malaysian Home Ministry deported her as her activity had a “potential negative effect on the image of Malaysia.”

“Clearly I hit a raw nerve,” Jolley commented on the deportation.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government in a statement sent to Al Jazeera strongly denied any links between the Mongolian woman and Prime Minister Najib Razak, and dismissed allegations of corruption and kickbacks surrounding the murder as attempts by political opponents to smear him.

“The Prime Minister did not know, has never met, has never had any communication with and has no link whatsoever with the deceased,” the statement reads.

“Political opponents and their media allies have been trying to attack the Prime Minister on this issue for many years. But there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing, and there never will be – for the very good reason that the allegations are entirely false smears motivated by political gain,” it carries on.

The Altantuya scandal was among the reasons former Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave earlier this year to explain his demand for Najib’s resignation, although he has now shifted his focus to 1MDB as his main platform to press for Najib’s exit.

See the full Al Jazeera documentary below:

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Altantuya Shaariibuu, in better days

Amid mounting tensions between Gulf Arab countries and Malaysia – triggered by alleged dubious money flows involving state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB -, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera on September 11 unexpectedly released an investigative documentary “Murder In Malaysia” on the mysterious murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu through its Asia-Pacific current affairs programme, 101 East.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

altantuya
Altantuya Shaariibuu, in better days

Amid mounting tensions between Gulf Arab countries and Malaysia – triggered by alleged dubious money flows involving state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB -, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera on September 11 unexpectedly released an investigative documentary “Murder In Malaysia” on the mysterious murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu through its Asia-Pacific current affairs programme, 101 East.

The piece shows Australian reporter Mary Ann Jolley probing why Shaariibuu, a former photo model who somehow got involved in Malaysia’s top politics by dating an official and close associate of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and later seemed to have acted as a translator at a secretive defense deal, was killed in 2006, uncovering evidence from various sources alleging the people involved in the murder.

Shaariibuu went missing on October 19, 2006. Malaysian police found fragments of bone, later verified as hers, in forested land in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur. It was determined that she was shot twice before C-4 explosives were used on her remains, although there has been later suggestion that the C-4 explosives may have killed her. When her remains were found their identity could only be confirmed with a DNA test. The provenance of the C-4 could not be determined.

The reasons why she was murdered also remains unclear. Some allege attempted blackmailing related to the defense deal, others say it must have been a result of jealousy in the highest ranks.

Two bodyguards of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak have been named as suspects, but the trial took a long time and they were both seen as scapegoats by critics. Ultimately, Malaysia’s Federal Court on January 13, 2015, found them both guilty of murder and sentenced them to death. One of them fled to Australia where he is currently being detained by Australian Immigration pursuant to Malaysia’s request for extradition, which Australia cannot legally comply with owing to the country’s laws against capital punishment.

The episode of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” series largely revisits already established details of the murder and does not appear to include new information of note, but features dramatic re-enactments of key moments of the case. However, the piece alludes to “massive cover-ups” by senior Malaysian officials, at a time when the Malaysian government is under heavy pressure over the 1MDB controversy.

It turned out that the journalist who produced the half-hour piece was deported by Malaysian authorities already on June 14. A statement by Al Jazeera said the Malaysian Home Ministry deported her as her activity had a “potential negative effect on the image of Malaysia.”

“Clearly I hit a raw nerve,” Jolley commented on the deportation.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government in a statement sent to Al Jazeera strongly denied any links between the Mongolian woman and Prime Minister Najib Razak, and dismissed allegations of corruption and kickbacks surrounding the murder as attempts by political opponents to smear him.

“The Prime Minister did not know, has never met, has never had any communication with and has no link whatsoever with the deceased,” the statement reads.

“Political opponents and their media allies have been trying to attack the Prime Minister on this issue for many years. But there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing, and there never will be – for the very good reason that the allegations are entirely false smears motivated by political gain,” it carries on.

The Altantuya scandal was among the reasons former Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave earlier this year to explain his demand for Najib’s resignation, although he has now shifted his focus to 1MDB as his main platform to press for Najib’s exit.

See the full Al Jazeera documentary below:

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