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Murder of Mongolian in Malaysia: Acquitted cop's alibi 'false'

The Straits Times | Thursday, Jun 26, 2014

Murder suspects Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar arriving at Shah Alam High Court. They were found guilty of killing Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu (inset), but were subsequently acquitted. Government prosecutors are appealing against the acquittal.

PUTRAJAYA - The lead prosecutor in the appeals case of two Malaysian policemen acquitted of the murder of a Mongolian translator said one of the suspects did not have a credible alibi and should not have been released.

Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, the lead prosecutor, also argued that Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu's jewellery was found in the jacket of the other suspect at his home, and this should have been considered as evidence despite some "contradictions" in its discovery.

The government lawyer was presenting his appeal before Malaysia's highest court to try and overturn the acquittal of the two police commandos - Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar - in the sensational murder of the 28-year-old Mongolian woman in 2006, the Malaysian media reported yesterday.

The three-day hearing before a five-man Federal Court bench headed by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria is slated to end tomorrow.

The case is being closely watched as it involved a former aide to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The remains of Ms Altantuya, a language translator, were found scattered in a forest in Shah Alam, Selangor, in October 2006. She was later determined to have been killed using C4 military-grade explosives.

She was a girlfriend of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a former speechwriter for Datuk Seri Najib.

While Mr Abdul Razak was acquitted of the murder in 2008, two police commandos were found guilty by the High Court in 2009 of killing the Mongolian, and sentenced to hang.

But the Appeals Court last August acquitted the duo, leading government prosecutors to submit an appeal to Malaysia's apex court, the Federal Court.

The question raised by the public is that if no one has been found guilty of the murder, then how did Ms Altantuya die?

The murder has become a political hot potato for the Najib administration, with the opposition trying to pin Mr Najib to the case. The Prime Minister had, at least twice in past years, sworn in a mosque that he did not even know Ms Altantuya.

Deputy solicitor-general Tun Abdul Majid submitted to the court yesterday that the alibi of Mr Azilah's whereabouts near the time of the murder was false.

The prosecutor said that, based on the testimony of a witness from mobile phone company Celcom, Mr Azilah could not have been around the Wangsa Maju area in Kuala Lumpur as claimed.

This was based on the identity of his mobile phone and its location code, said the deputy solicitor-general. The murder took place in Shah Alam.

He said Mr Azilah had also readily led investigators to the exact murder scene where Ms Altantuya's remains were found, when the investigators at the time did not know where exactly the murder took place.

The prosecutor also argued that jewellery found in Mr Sirul's jacket in his home is important to the case.

He said: "The fact remains, jewellery was found in his jacket. In the jacket, DNA was found," the Malay Mail Online reported.

The jewellery was removed from Ms Altantuya before she was murdered, he said.

The DNA was also found to be from the Mongolian, though he accepted that the genetic evidence could be inconclusive.

The prosecutor pointed out that another piece of circumstantial evidence - the discovery of Ms Altantuya's DNA on a slipper in Mr Sirul's car - should have been accepted in court.

The hearing continues today.


This article was first published on June 24, 2014.
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