Malaysia’s new government likely to reopen Mongolian model murder case

The new government in Malaysia in its effort to clear dubious legal cases of the past involving former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration could reopen the 2006 murder case of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian ex-model and translator said to have been eliminated by Najib’s security personnel on his order because she “knew too much” of a 2002 purchase of Scorpene submarines from France that allegedly was mired in bribery at the highest ranks.

The affair centered on allegations that Malaysian officials took huge kickbacks in the deal, and Altantuya in her role as translator witnessed the same. Allegedly, the French submarine maker paid “commissions” of more than $134 million to a shell company linked to Abdul Razak Baginda, a close Najib associate who brokered the $1.1-billion submarine deal and was also romantically involved with Altantuya.

Altantuya, who was said to have demanded a payoff of $500,000 to remain silent, was later shot dead and her body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur in 2006.

Whispers persist that Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor were deeply involved in the murder and that Altantuya was pregnant at the time of her dead from an affair with Najib, which would explain the use of explosives to destroy her body.

However, Najib has always denied any involvement and ever knowing Altantuya.

Two of his security guards, who were later convicted for the murder, were largely seen as scapegoats. One of them, Sirul Azhar Umar, managed to escape to Australia were he has been under detention by immigration police since then. He said he was ready to “tell the truth” about the case now that the old government is out of the way.

“The fact no motive for the murder has ever been established leaves open the question that it was a state-sponsored killing, and that needs to be thoroughly investigated. Najib could find himself in a very precarious situation,” Greg Lopez, a Malaysia expert at Western Australia’s Murdoch University, told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Mongolia’s president Khaltmaa Battulga on May 16 urged new Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to reopen the investigations into the murder.

“As the President of Mongolia, I pay special attention to the grave crime committed in Malaysia on 18 October 2006 – the murder of Ms. Shariibuu Altantuya, a Mongolian national and a mother of two children.” he said in a letter to Mahathir that was also published on his office’s website.

Khaltmaa congratulated Mahathir on his appointment but said reopening the investigation would not only help justice but also ease tensions between the two countries. The Malaysian government has yet to respond.

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The new government in Malaysia in its effort to clear dubious legal cases of the past involving former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration could reopen the 2006 murder case of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian ex-model and translator said to have been eliminated by Najib’s security personnel on his order because she “knew too much” of a 2002 purchase of Scorpene submarines from France that allegedly was mired in bribery at the highest ranks.

The new government in Malaysia in its effort to clear dubious legal cases of the past involving former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration could reopen the 2006 murder case of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian ex-model and translator said to have been eliminated by Najib’s security personnel on his order because she “knew too much” of a 2002 purchase of Scorpene submarines from France that allegedly was mired in bribery at the highest ranks.

The affair centered on allegations that Malaysian officials took huge kickbacks in the deal, and Altantuya in her role as translator witnessed the same. Allegedly, the French submarine maker paid “commissions” of more than $134 million to a shell company linked to Abdul Razak Baginda, a close Najib associate who brokered the $1.1-billion submarine deal and was also romantically involved with Altantuya.

Altantuya, who was said to have demanded a payoff of $500,000 to remain silent, was later shot dead and her body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur in 2006.

Whispers persist that Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor were deeply involved in the murder and that Altantuya was pregnant at the time of her dead from an affair with Najib, which would explain the use of explosives to destroy her body.

However, Najib has always denied any involvement and ever knowing Altantuya.

Two of his security guards, who were later convicted for the murder, were largely seen as scapegoats. One of them, Sirul Azhar Umar, managed to escape to Australia were he has been under detention by immigration police since then. He said he was ready to “tell the truth” about the case now that the old government is out of the way.

“The fact no motive for the murder has ever been established leaves open the question that it was a state-sponsored killing, and that needs to be thoroughly investigated. Najib could find himself in a very precarious situation,” Greg Lopez, a Malaysia expert at Western Australia’s Murdoch University, told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Mongolia’s president Khaltmaa Battulga on May 16 urged new Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to reopen the investigations into the murder.

“As the President of Mongolia, I pay special attention to the grave crime committed in Malaysia on 18 October 2006 – the murder of Ms. Shariibuu Altantuya, a Mongolian national and a mother of two children.” he said in a letter to Mahathir that was also published on his office’s website.

Khaltmaa congratulated Mahathir on his appointment but said reopening the investigation would not only help justice but also ease tensions between the two countries. The Malaysian government has yet to respond.

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