Two get death in Malaysia for killing Mongolian model

- Ex-police officers used explosives to blow up Altantuya Shaariibuu in high-profile murder case.

By P Prem Kumar 

KUALA LUMPUR (AA) - The Malaysian apex court today reversed a 2013 ruling and sentenced two former police special unit commandos to death for killing a Mongolian model and professional translator in 2006.

The high-profile murder case - which went into trial in 2008 - also included big names like Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor – with media reports alleging the duo might have instructed the killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu, given the latter's vast knowledge of the government's multi-billion dollar Scorpene submarine deal.

The two ex-police officers, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azahar, were charged in the lower court in 2008 for allegedly using C4 explosives to blow up the Mongolian model, after allegedly receiving instructions from political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda - a confidante of premier Razak.

Baginda was however acquitted in the lower court, without his defense being called. The government, too, did not appeal against his release.

Despite Tuesday's conviction, the motive for the murder of Shaariibuu was not revealed. Federal Court judge Suriyadi Halim Omar only said that the prosecution had proved its case to implicate with the charge that carried the death penalty.

"As such, the Court of Appeal was wrong in reversing the findings of the trial court to free them," said Suriyadi, who is a member of the five-man bench to hear the final appeal.

Chief Justice of Malaysia Ariffin Zakaria chaired the bench.

On Aug. 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals brought by Hadri and Azahar and freed them, overturning a verdict given in the High Court four years earlier which sentenced them to death.

During the case proceedings in the High Court, evidence was presented to reveal that the Mongolian translator was either murdered in the blast or killed first and her remains destroyed Oct. 18, 2006 on the outskirts of Shah Alam, near capital city Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian government went into a submarine procurement deal with French defence giant DCNS in 2002, back when Najib Razak was the defence minister.

Baginda's company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, reportedly brokered the RM4.2 billion ($1.16 Billion) deal as the middleman with Shaariibuu being the translator between the two parties.

Baginda allegedly received RM574 million in commission for providing support and co-ordination services to the government in the Scorpene acquisition.

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