Mar 5, 09 2:42pm The final moments of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu before she was brutally killed in 2006 has been revealed in vivid details in a French newspaper today.
Journalist Arnaud Dubus, who traveled halfway across the world – from Kuala Lumpur to Ulan Bator, Mongolia and finally to Paris – for his investigation, unearthed a piece of documentary evidence exposing how Altantuya was allegedly killed.
The document – said to be obtained from a source in the Malaysian police – has not been revealed during the two-year-long murder trial of Altantuya.
According to a lawyer who was involved in the case, the document which is a caution statement made by an accused in the grisly murder, was not admitted in court.
This was following an Attorney-General’s Chambers directive in 2005 for the prosecution not use caution statements since they are often challenged by the defence arguing that they are obtained through questionable methods, and thus delaying the court process.
In his report which appeared in left-wing Liberation newspaper, Dubus wrote that the document revealed “dry and precise descriptions” on how Altantuya was killed.
Malaysiakini is unable to reproduce all the details of the document due to possible legal complications that could arise as a result of the on-going murder trial.
Last month, Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Md Yasin set April 9 to deliver his decision on the fate Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri – the two special action force police personnel accused of murdering Altantuya.
The police document obtained by Dubus detailed on how Altantuya, who was referred to as ‘the Chinese woman’ in the document, had begged for her life, and stated that she had children, before she was shot.
It also mentioned that Altantuya was shot on the left side of her face, after which her clothes were removed from her body and put in a black plastic bag.
According to the document, Altantuya was shot another time when her hand was seen to be still moving.
Altantuya was subsequently carried into the woods where explosives were wrapped around her legs, her abdomen and her head before she was blown to pieces.
The document clearly identified Altantuya’s killers and the respective roles they played.
Three months of investigation
Dubus told Malaysiakini that he spent three months investigating the case.
“I spent two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, then went to Ulan Bator where I stayed one week. Then, in Paris in January where I spent 10 days,” he said in an email interview.
In his Liberation report, which was written in French, Dubus wrote about Altantuya’s relationship with political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda and the role she played in the purchase of French submarines by the Malaysian government.
“In March 2005, Altantuya and (Abdul Razak) Baginda departed for Europe, touring France, Germany, Italy and Portugal in the red Ferrari of Baginda, staying in posh hotels and dining in the finest restaurants of the old Continent.
“This trip, however, was not only for tourism: the contract for the sale of the submarines had been signed in 2002, but important details had yet to be settled,” wrote Dubus.
“We knew that Baginda was used by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak as an intermediary for weapons systems deals, especially the high level ones,” a regional security affairs expert had told Dubus.
Dubus also quoted Altantuya’s cousin as saying that Altantuya and Abdul Razak were in Paris in March 2005, where they met with Najib.
“A picture taken at the end of March 2005 shows the three in a Parisian private club,” he wrote, disputing a denial by Najib that he had ever met Altantuya.
He said that the story “turned dramatic” when in October 2006 Altantuya was informed that the commission paid by the French-Spanish company Armaris – which sold three submarines to the Malaysian government for one billion euros (RM4.7 billion) – had arrived at a Kuala Lumpur bank account.
It was revealed that 115 million euro (RM541 million) commission had been paid to Perimekar, a company owned by Abdul Razak.
“Altantuya rushed to Kuala Lumpur, in order to claim her share of the commission from Baginda; she said she was entitled to US$500,000.
“Baginda and Altantuya broke up prior to this. A jealous Rosmah Mansor, the feared businesswoman and wife of Najib, objected any payment to Altantuya.
“Altantuya arrived in Kuala Lumpur with two other Mongolian women, one of them was a shaman responsible for putting a spell on Baginda if he refused to pay.
“For several days, Altantuya harassed her ex-lover. On Oct 18, Baginda could no longer tolerate the daily scenes made by Altantuya in front of his house,” wrote Dubus.
Subsequently, two police officers from the special unit tasked to provide protection to VIPs including Najib, were asked to “neutralise the Chinese woman.”
It wasn’t a perfect crime
The case was not a perfect crime, said Dubus. Altantuya was kidnapped by the two police officers in front Abdul Razak’s house.
“The taxi driver hired by Altantuya for the day did not appreciate that his passenger was kidnapped under his eyes without payment for the fare. He took note of the registration plate of the kidnapper’s car and filed a complaint at the local police station.
The police were able to quickly identify the car.
“Events unfolded that even the Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak could not impede. He tried to cover the case. A few hours before the arrest of Baginda, he sent him a SMS: ‘I will see the inspector general of police at 11am today… The problem will be solved. Be cool’.
“A few hours after, Baginda was arrested as well as the two police officers, Azilah and Sirul.”
Abdul Razak was initially charged with conspiring in the killing of Altantuya but he was acquitted without being called to enter his defence.
Dubus said that the case is not only embarrassing to Najib, who is linked to the case, but also DCNS – the French military shipbuilding company which bought over Armaris in 2007.
The 45-year-old French journalist, who is based in Bangkok, has written several books on Southeast Asian history and politics, including a book on the military in Indonesia and Thailand.
According to him, his next book could be on the Altantuya case.