Anwar wants fresh trial in Altantuya murder case

Former Malaysian deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, wants fresh trial for a man who fled the country after being sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006, local reports say.

Former Malaysian police officer Sirul Azhar Umar, who is said to be in Australian custody, had alleged that he was ordered by some “important people” to murder the model. Sirul once even threatened to reveal who gave him the order.

Altantuya had political clout. Her lover Abdul Razak Baginda was a former close associate of ex-Malaysian premier Najib Razak. Abdul Razak had allegedly taken kickbacks for the purchase of French submarines in 2002.

Rumours say Altantuya was murdered to stop her from revealing all those involved in the submarine deal. Altantuya, 28, was shot dead and her body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives outside Kuala Lumpur.

Najib’s critics suspected Sirul and his accomplice Azilah Hadri were mere scapegoats to shield some powerful people. Anwar, who walked free from jail after royal pardon, suggested on Thursday that Sirul be brought back to Malaysia to face fresh trial.

He told The Australian that the original trial was a sham. The ruling was “compromised” and judges “made a mockery of the law” showing reluctance to call relevant witnesses.

According to him, a fresh trial in the changed political climate could help unmask those who allegedly ordered Altantuya’s murder.

A fresh trial is necessary since reports say Sirul is trying to get a protection visa. Malaysia has  also to confirm reports that Sirul has been detained in Australia since 2015. So far, Canberra has not acknowledged this fact.

According to Guardian, Australia has allowed Malaysian officials and middlemen to meet him regularly. Among them was one from Najib’s United Malays National Organisation party’s youth wing who met Sirul a fortnight ago. And his message to Sirul was not to reveal anything.