Altantuya case back to haunt nation

Altantuya Shaariibuu

When news of Azilah Hadri’s explosive admission that he was ordered to “shoot to kill by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak” made headlines, memories of me covering the trial came flooding back.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised with such “revelation”. After all, having covered the proceedings at the High Court, there were already rumours going around at the time of the trial that Najib was alleged to be behind the whole Altantuya Shaariibuu episode.

Azilah, a former special action force police personnel, is awaiting the gallows when his statutory declaration made headlines detailing shocking information of what transpired. Something which contradicted what he had testified under oath in court.

In fact, Azilah had also submitted a notice of alibi, claiming he was in Bukit Aman during the time of the murder and nowhere near where the crime was committed in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam.

However, based on the statutory declaration, Azilah admitted to being involved in a ‘covert operation’ to kill Altantuya, which he claimed he had carried out for the “sake of the nation”. This, he alleged, was because he was told that Altantuya was a ‘foreign spy and a threat to national security’.

So was he lying under oath when testifying at the High Court?

Azilah filed an application last week to review the Federal Court’s decision and is seeking a retrial for Altantuya’s murder. The court fixed April 20 next year to hear the application.

The contents of the statutory declaration dated October 17, 2019, were published by newsportal Malaysiakini.

In his statutory declaration, Azilah alleged that Najib gave the order to shoot to kill the Mongolian national. He gave detailed information of what happened running up to the day of the crime. The document also implicated Abdul Razak Baginda, who was then Najib’s special officer.

Musa Safri, a former aide-de-camp to Najib, the then deputy prime minister and defence minister, was also mentioned more than 80 times in the statutory declaration.

Even if the document’s authenticity has yet to be proven, Musa’s role seemed pertinent in the whole saga.

Yet, questions then and now remain … why wasn’t Musa called as a witness to so-call clear any doubts?

I was not surprised by such “revelations”. What took me aback is why now, after 13 years of the murder and at the eleventh hour when he is expected to be hung.

At a time of political uncertainty, the statutory declaration may also be seen as a ploy to further disgrace Najib, who is already facing multiple charges involving the 1MDB scandal.

Najib, of course, has dismissed the statutory declaration claiming it is pure fabrication and an attempt by the Pakatan Harapan administration to ensnare him in a fresh conspiracy.

In 2015, the Federal Court upheld the conviction and death penalty of Azilah and Sirul Azhar Umar which was handed down by the High Court in 2009. During the appeal at Federal Court, Sirul failed to show up and was later found in Australia where he remains under detention by the Australian authorities until today. Azilah has been on death row since then.

I have always believed there is more to the story of what we had heard in court.

This is simply because in every murder, theRE would be a motive. Until today, the two men had none.

For now, the statutory declaration is enough to again shake the nation surrounding Altantuya’s death. Investigations into the authenticity and content of the statutory declaration should be carried out, not just for the sake of Najib’s reputation, but also our country’s international repute.

There are just so many versions surrounding the murder that once again, Altantuya’s ghost returns to haunt those involved and will not rest until justice prevails.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.