December 23, 2019

Malaysia May Reopen Mongolia Murder Case as Najib Vows Innocence
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s top prosecutor will look into reopening the case of a murdered Mongolian woman allegedly linked to former premier Najib Razak, as the victim’s father says he’s pinning his hopes on the country’s new government to find justice.Two former police guards for Najib had been convicted of the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.“Everybody knew that it just did not make sense for the two of them to be solely culpable,” Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said in a Friday interview. “So we knew that the story was incomplete.”The courts that sentenced the two men to death had grappled with their lack of motive, while Azilah’s recent statement indicates there may in fact be a reason for the murder, Thomas said. “It’s more for the police to investigate and we will look into it,” he said, when asked if he will reopen the case.One of the convicted men, Azilah Hadri, is seeking a retrial after penning a sworn statement accusing the former prime minister of ordering him to covertly arrest and destroy her because she was a foreign spy and a threat to national security. Najib has denied any involvement. On Friday, he made a religious oath that he didn’t give the order and had never met her.Death PenaltyThe prosecutor’s stance will be a relief to Shaariibuu Setev, who has spent more than a decade seeking closure over his daughter’s death. He is campaigning for Malaysia to commute the men’s sentences via a plea deal so that Australia, where one of the men had fled to seek asylum from the death penalty, would agree to bring them together to tell what he says could be the true story behind the murder.Shaariibuu said he doesn’t wish the death penalty on them. “Executing these officers is an awkward way to eliminate evidence,” he said in an interview in Ulaanbaatar on Oct. 3.Australia’s Department of Home Affairs declined to comment on individual cases in an email on Nov. 15.Altantuya was a linguist who spoke Russian and Chinese, as she grew up studying in Russia and Mongolia, before traveling to China to study economics, Shaariibuu said.Witnesses in the murder trial in 2007 said Altantuya worked as a translator and was privy to the government’s purchase of Scorpene-class submarines, which is now the subject of investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and French authorities.Civil SuitAltantuya died in Malaysia after being led to a secluded spot in the jungle by the two convicted men. Police reports show she was shot and then blown up using C-4 explosives, which her father believes was used to hide evidence, he said in the interview.Najib’s former adviser Abdul Razak Baginda, who admitted to an affair with her, was acquitted of abetting the killing due to lack of evidence.Shaariibuu has filed a civil suit against Malaysia to seek damages for her family. That’s proving difficult as local courts refused to use evidence presented in the criminal trial for the civil case, requiring him to seek funds to fly in witnesses from Mongolia, the U.S. and Australia to testify. A retired university teacher, he has sought donations to help pay for his legal fees and the costs of reconstructing evidence presented in the criminal case.“It’s up to Malaysia to resolve this,” Shaariibuu said. “It’s their reputation, and the reputation of their court system.”\--With assistance from Anisah Shukry.To contact the reporters on this story: Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar at tedwards100@bloomberg.net;Yantoultra Ngui in Kuala Lumpur at yngui@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net;Yudith Ho at yho35@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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