Wednesday, July 26, 2017

11 years on, Altantuya's bigwig killers stay elusive to the law but we all know who they are! (updated)

The three accused arriving at court (photo: AFP)
Despite a detailed confession of pre-meditated murder from Sirul Azhar bin Haji Umar (IC No: RF12559) recorded in Police Report No: 7380/06 on 9 November 2006 at 1635 hrs by Inspector Nom Phot a/l Prack Dit, the Court of Appeal on 23 August 2013 decided to let both Sirul Azhar and his instigator Capt. Azilah Hadri walk free.

Sirul Azhar (left) & Azilah Hadri 
It has been established that Capt. Azilah Hadri was from the elite UTK (Special Operations Unit of the Royal Malaysian Police) and had served as personal bodyguard to then defence minister and deputy prime minister Najib Razak. He was summoned by Najib’s ADC and security chief, DSP Musa Safri, after Abdul Razak Baginda reported to his close friend and biggest client Najib Razak, that he was being harassed relentlessly by a very determined Mongolian woman demanding her share of a RM540 million kickback from a top secret French submarine deal.

Sirul Azhar stated in his police statement that he was recruited by Azilah to assist in “taking care” of a nuisance named Aminah alias Altantuya Shaariibuu. He even added that a cash reward of RM50,000 –100,000 was involved. I doubt Sirul knew who had made the offer, and even if he did, whatever name he mentioned would have been deleted from his statement by police officers eager to protect the VVIPs in Umno Baru.

'Taken care' of at least 6 others

The third accused in the gruesome murder trial was Abdul Razak Baginda who submitted a sworn affidavit to the effect that he had briefed Capt. Azilah Hadri on the problem of Altantuya. Razak Baginda said Capt. Azilah had assured him he was quite up to the task, even boasting that he had previously “taken care” of at least six others.

Nobody in their right mind would confess to cold-blooded murder - more so when the victim is unknown to them and happens to be a pretty woman given the brush-off by some well-heeled and politically connected casanova. Altantuya was obviously not a hardcore criminal. Who would have had the heart to shoot her twice in the head point blank even as she was pleading for her life – and that of her unborn child? Whatever crime she might have committed, blackmail for example, she deserved her day in court. Every policeman knows that – or should in any case.

Altantuya Shaariibuu in Europe with Razak Baginda
However, Capt. Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar weren’t ordinary cops. They were commandos with the UTK, trained as crack sharpshooters and willing to carry out orders without question. Whose orders? Surely they would not obey Abdul Razak Baginda – a mere civilian, albeit one with political clout? The orders had to come from a superior police officer, in this instance Najib Razak’s ADC, former DSP Musa Safri, who has since been promoted and transferred to a different state.

Political masters must take the ultimate responsibility

"Could do with more kickback"
Why was Musa Safri never called as a witness during the trial, which ran a record 159 days? He was security chief and ADC to Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor. Whatever action he took would have been at their behest, in the interest of their personal security. DSP Musa Safri was clearly a loyal servant to his political masters. They are ones who must accept ultimate responsibility for the actions of their loyal servants – particularly if these actions involved abduction and cold-blooded murder, topped by the use of military-grade plastic explosives to destroy evidence of a dead body carrying an unborn child.

We must not forget that somebody in the Immigration Department deliberately deleted from the computer database all entry records of Altantuya Shaariibuu and her companions. Who would have the authority to order such a criminal act? In October 2006 when the drama unfolded the Ministry of Home Affairs (which controls the Immigration Department) had recently been restructured and, although Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad was nominally in charge, it was a period of confusion without clear lines of command.

There must be someone very high in the power hierarchy to accomplish these grievous misdeeds without a hitch (almost). Who does all the evidence point to? Who is the common denominator in this complex web of intrigue?

Was Rosmah really not at the scene? Or was she?

Altantuya Shaariibuu (6 May 1978 – 20 October 2006)
Abdul Razak Baginda had friends in powerful places but maintained a relatively low public profile. He had little to lose except his reputation if his sordid affair with Altantuya became public knowledge - apart from facing the wrath of his wife, Mazlinda Makhzan (a director in the company involved with the submarine deal). Even if this scandal resulted in an investigation by the MACC, it would have been a routine matter to get the case closed after the excitement had subsided.

Same goes for the uniformed personnel involved in the case. Musa Safri may have been guilty of abetting a serious crime, but as a typical Malay police officer whose loyalty to his Tuan Besar superseded his duty as a public servant, he would have received a measure of sympathy had he confessed his role and cleared the path for justice to be served. Capt. Azilah and Sirul were clearly implicated, via Sirul’s confession as well as the detailed statutory declaration signed by private investigator Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal. However, their role was essentially to carry out somebody else’s dirty work.

Raja Petra Kamarudin
In a statutory declaration signed on 18 June 2008 by Raja Petra Kamarudin (the controversial blogger and editor of newsportal Malaysia Today better known as RPK), several others were implicated in the sensational murder. Indeed, RPK’s declaration revealed that Najib’s ambitious wife Rosmah Mansor may have been at the murder scene, along with two high-ranking officers attached to the defence ministry’s engineering corps, Lt Kol, Abdul Aziz Buyong and his wife Lt Kol. Norhayati Hassan, both experts in the use of C4 explosives. RPK claimed he had been given this shocking information by a senior Military Intelligence officer.

RPK subsequently retracted his statutory declaration in April 2011 in a heavily edited interview with TV3, a government-friendly station, explaining that he cannot be certain if what he heard was actually true. His excuse was that he felt it was his duty as a citizen to make public what he had been told in confidence. Others saw it as a clue that RPK might have been instigated into filing his June 2008 declaration by factions focused on derailing Najib Razak’s prime ministerial aspirations.

Who has been leaking the info?

Within Umno Baru there are many who would like to see Najib Razak and his influential wife removed from the game – and the Altantuya scandal serves as the perfect weapon.

Three names immediately spring to mind: Mahathir Mohamad, whose primary goal is to ensure that his youngest son, Mukhriz, eventually becomes prime minister; Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who has been eyeing the PM’s post since the mid-1980s; and Muhyiddin Yassin, Najib’s erstwhile deputy, who certainly wouldn’t mind a shot at taking over as Top Gun (or at least seeing the man who fired him forced to step down).

While an in-depth inquiry into the Altantuya murder would have revealed the fact that the Scorpene submarine scam was first mooted in 2002, during Mahathir’s tenure, Najib Razak would definitely be implicated as he was then Mahathir’s defence minister.

Abdul Razak Baginda, according to P.I. Bala’s explosive statutory declaration of 3 July 2008, had been introduced to Altantuya Shaariibuu by his buddy Najib Razak at a diamond expo in Singapore. In an unguarded moment, Razak Baginda had confided to his private eye that Najib could not afford a major scandal after being appointed deputy prime minister, only one step from the top. So he wanted Razak Baginda to take over the role of sugar daddy to his high-maintenance Mongolian paramour.

It is public knowledge that Najib Razak has always had an eye for beautiful women. This weakness is every public figure’s Achilles’ Heel – especially in a political jungle acrawl with hidden predators and a culture supercharged with hypocrisy and false piety.

Hotbed of intrigue

Dr Shaariibuu Setev, father of the murdered girl
With such colossal amounts of money involved, Umno Baru qualifies as a hotbed of intrigue. Parry and thrust, bribery and threat, playing one faction against another – these are par for the course in our benighted political milieu. Nobody wants to risk losing everything, so marriages of convenience, cynical pragmatism, and political trade-offs become the norm. Who cares about the truth? It’s all a matter of perception anyhow, and that’s where the professional spin-doctors come in. Who cares about justice? It can be bought and sold if you have deep pockets.

Umno Baru has sunk up to its tall songkok in a quagmire of deceit and a conspiracy of silence. While some may be happy to see Najib and Rosmah brought down and taken off the game board, there are others who fear losing power completely in the event of an ugly leadership tussle. They would rather serve a tainted leader who can offer them perks – than a clean one who might immediately sack them for incompetence and greed.

A nation that closes its eye to cold-blooded murder

In happier days: Altantuya with her firstborn
And so, eleven years after her cruel and unnecessary death at the hands of ruthless mobsters posing as the government of Malaysia, Altantuya Shaariibuu’s ghost has yet to be appeased. The deafening silence surrounding this nightmarish episode reveals a conspiracy at the highest levels of power – and the entire Barisan Nasional federal government is, in fact, guilty of complicity in first-degree murder.

Since the government is supposed to represent the whole nation, every Malaysian will suffer the same curse – until we reclaim our collective conscience and our pride as citizens of a nation gone horribly wrong. Is that what we deserve after 60 years of nationhood – to be seen as a gigantic crime syndicate of congenital liars, hypocrites, thieves, rapists, and murderers?

[From Malaysia Chronicle, 28 October 2013. First posted 13 January 2014, reposted 18 October 2014 & 11 August 2015]